I want to introduce you to some more heroes.
These are heroes I never knew personally. But they are men and women who demonstrated a “heroic” faith and their names are forever remembered in the eleventh chapter of the New Testament book of Hebrews.
We are told that Abel still speaks even though he is dead. His heroic faith has inspired God’s people for thousands of years.
Enoch was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith, it is impossible to please God.
Noah believed God was telling him to build an ark. When he was warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear he built an ark to save his family.
Abraham was called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance and he went even though he did not know where he was going.
It was by faith that Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children.
It was faith that caused the parents of Moses to hide him for three months, disobeying the king's order to kill all male Hebrew babies.
By faith, the prostitute Rahab was not killed because she welcomed the spies.
These heroes of our faith were not perfect people. Noah got drunk. Sarah lied. Moses got a little cocky and struck the rock instead of speaking to it as God has told him to do. And Rahab--well, she was a prostitute.
If I had written the Bible, I would have found a way to delete any mention of the foolish mistakes of these heroes. But God wrote the Bible and we must not miss the reality of its honesty. If everyone mentioned in the Bible only had perfect resumes, we might find it too difficult to believe or aspire to emulate.
God allowed us to see how He used people just like us--far from perfect, flawed, and sinful. David’s sexual appetite pushed him to pursue a woman who was not his wife, and he got her pregnant. He then tried to make it look like it was the child of her husband and when that plan didn’t work he had her husband killed.
God was gracious in allowing us to see the flaws and foolishness of the people in the Bible.
David’s story of forgiveness and restoration is one of the great stories that remind us God never gives up. Most of these heroes of the Bible would have been ushered out of most churches. And most churches have trouble ever offering a second chance to one who has been restored and forgiven. Rahab, Noah, and Sarah would have never been asked to teach Sunday school.
Who would ever have dreamed that an adulterer, a drunk, a liar, and a prostitute would be held out as examples for us to follow?
Yet the writer of Hebrews tells us in chapter eleven, verse thirty-four, that these people had their “weakness turned to strength. They became strong in battle.” Then, verses thirty-nine and forty tell us that “all these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us...His purpose was that only in company with us would they be made perfect.”
I will never grow tired of seeing the reaction I get when someone who has miserably failed finds out God loves, forgives, and always turns our messes into ministry.
My prayer is that we would never let our hearts grow cold or hard toward those who have failed. I pray that we remember that we all have “fallen short of God’s ideal plan.” I pray that we would offer to all the hope of forgiveness and restoration. Just think of what this world might be like today if professing Christians would have been generous with forgiveness instead of judgment and criticism.