Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac.” Genesis 21:9–10
Sarah and Hagar had behaved badly toward one another—they had history—and Sarah had held a grudge. That grudge ended in Abraham banishing his son Ishmael, and his mother Hagar, into the wilderness with nothing more than enough bread and water for a single day. The women’s animosity toward each other—while not entirely rational—was completely understandable. Before Sarah had given birth to Isaac, she had been jealous of Hagar’s fertility. When Hagar gave birth to Ishmael, she felt proud that she could accomplish something her mistress could not do for Abraham. A corrosive combination of insecurity and jealousy devolved into a careless and heartless outcome.
Of all the bad actors in this story, Abraham must be held most accountable. As the women lost their cool and their better judgment, Abraham stood by and did nothing. He watched two women mistreat one another on his account, and he failed to intervene. He was a bystander who was willing to watch, but unwilling get involved. When people lose their better judgment—which happens to us all—those standing by must intervene for the good of all involved. Blessed are the peacemakers, not the bystanders.
What situation do you need to address so that relationships are not permanently damaged?
Lord, I don’t like conflict and I don’t like getting involved in other people’s business. I have heard myself and others say that more times than I can remember. Perhaps it is a cop-out, a way to avoid the guilt of standing idly by while people injure themselves and others. Give me the courage to step up and into conflict when I can be a voice and presence for peace. In Jesus’ name, I pray. AMEN.