January 20

Genesis 21:10-11 10and she said to Abraham, "Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac." 11The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son.

Sarah had enough of Hagar and Ishmael. She now had the son of promise. The Apostle Paul tells us this is a picture of Judaism and Christianity (Galatians 4:22, 31). The one was an effort of man trying to bring about the promises of God through human effort. The other is the promise coming to pass by faith. Eventually all our human effort to please God must give way to what God does for us by grace through faith. Those born in the natural way (human effort) will persecute those born of the promise (by grace through faith). All your striving will not make you like the Son. Only a yielding to His life in you can transform you so that His life comes through.

The human effort caused Abraham a great deal of pain in this passage. He loved Ishmael greatly. He had grown attached to the product of his human effort. That is only natural if that human effort is a son, but we grow attached to our religious efforts as well. When it was time for him to go, Abraham was greatly distressed.

Some of our human efforts, works to please God, 'good' things but things not done at the direction of the Spirit, will have to pass away too. Can we honestly recognize that they are the product of our human efforts and let go of them in preference to the things of God? It will hurt, but that is because we have grown attached to our own ways.

Consider: Is there a religious effort I need to let go of?