Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:6
Abram, later called Abraham, was far from perfect, yet God continued to bless him throughout the ups and downs of his life. Once again God’s grace shines through, and this should encourage all of us who struggle with doubt and disobedience. Most of all in Abram’s life I am encouraged to see that it is not what he does, but in whom he believes, that determines his right standing with God.
Abram’s faith didn’t exist in a vacuum; it led to action. God called him out of his homeland and told him to go to a country he did not know. Abram went. Though surrounded by pagans, he publicly worshipped Jehovah. He dealt selflessly with his nephew Lot by allowing Lot to choose the better portion of land. Abram did not dwell near the wickedness of Sodom but moved his tent further away. When his nephew, Lot, was taken prisoner in a war, Abram went and rescued him.
But Abram also fell short. When he feared that his wife’s beauty would lead powerful men to kill him, he lied and passed her off as his sister. In years to come he would grow impatient with God’s promise to give him a son and take matters into his own hands. Despite all this, the covenant-making God continued to deal with Abram and unconditionally guaranteed him the land and an immeasurable family of descendants. On one of these occasions, God takes Abram outside, shows him the countless stars in the sky, and tells him that his descendants will also be beyond counting.
Abram is old, and married to an old woman. They have already proven their infertility through many childless years. Now God is showing him a sky awash with stars (not like our skies hidden by city lights) and telling him that he will have this many heirs. It is impossible, but Abram believes, and because of his faith God reckons him as righteous – right with God.
Early on God lays this foundation of faith. He builds on it throughout the Bible. There will always be a necessary tension between faith and obedience, but faith comes first. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).