And the fruit of the Spirit is: Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance:..Galatians 5:22-23
Once upon a time there used to be a beautiful Egyptian maid servant known as Hagar that used to live with an old couple in the land of Canaan. She was gentle and obedient. She served the couple and worked diligently to please her masters. She was faithful, caring and took care of the homestead and the animals. She fetched water from the wells and kept the tents and linens clean. She baked bread and cooked mutton stew for Abraham and Sarah. Sarah liked her and they shared a warm friendship. Sarah needed a friend, she found one in Hagar. A female friend to chat and talk as Abraham is away with the male servants herding the livestock. Abraham and Sarah had no children and they were past their fertile years.
One quiet afternoon, Sarah and Hagar were sipping some herbal tea and some freshly baked bread that Hagar had prepared for them. As they were chatting over mundane issues that bond girls, Sarah’s demeanor changed, and she looked into Hagar’s eyes. Hagar could not help notice that there was something wrong. So she asked her ‘Is anything the matter Sarah? Is it the tea, I know I might have boiled it longer than usual, it’s ok I can make something else’. Sarah interjected, ‘No! No! No! It’s not the tea, the tea is just fine’. Light shimmered through the tent’s entrance it was almost dusk now, just a few hours and Abraham would be home. She had decided to do it, she couldn’t wait any longer. Sarah looked into Hagar’s eyes again this time with gloom in her eyes,’ Hagar, you have been with us for a long time now, you have cared and loved us. I need to ask a favor from you.’ Hagar responded ‘Sarah you are my friend and more so I respect you as my mother, you have taken care of me as if I was your own daughter, anything for you my dear. Sarah hesitated, she had played this scene over and over again, and she didn’t know exactly how Hagar would react. She finally asked her, ‘Hagar, I would like you to lay with my husband that I may have an heir to my name’. Hagar laughed, and then she paused and glanced at Sarah and realized that Sarah was serious! ‘Sarah, you cannot expect me to do that!’ Hagar argued. But Sarah kept on insisting and managed to put in a convincing argument. Finally, Hagar told her friend that she would think about it.
That night as Sarah rested on her husband’s shoulder, she leaned closer to her husband’s ear and said, ‘Abraham my love, the Lord has kept me from having children, I am requesting that you lay with my maid servant Hagar may be through that we may maintain our lineage. Abraham rose up with a start, ‘Sarah, how would you ask of me to do such an outrageous act!’ An argument ensued and in finality Abraham agreed to sleep with Hagar to please the wife, out of love I suppose. (Gen 16:2). Sarah then organized for the meeting between Hagar and Abraham and Hagar conceived.
Days went by, Hagar’s pregnancy grew. Sarah marveled at the changes, she took care of Hagar and had wonderful thoughts about her new family. One day, Sarah found Hagar asleep in the middle of the day and she inquired of her. Hagar was indignant and asked Sarah not to disturb her. The sweet maid servant who had cared for them all these years was now arrogant and rude. She despised Sarah. Sarah was mystified she could not understand what had got into her friend. This went on for days, disobedience and arrogance instead of the respect and love she had accorded the couple for all these years. It was confusing to Sarah, so she sought the help of her husband. Abraham did not want to get into trouble between the two and informed Sarah to do what she intends to do with Hagar. Sarah started mistreating Hagar. Hagar fled from the homestead for her safety. (Genesis16:6)
Does this scenario sound familiar? At one point bosom friends become worst of enemy’s and cannot stand each other. These two must have been bosom friends for Sarah to have trusted Hagar with her husband. Though, it would seem offensive in this modern era to ask your ‘bff’ to have a baby with your husband. So what happened to these best friends? Is it jealousy, envy and insecurity? Each must have felt betrayed by the other after that incident. In life and as Christians we may find ourselves trusting and building friendships with one another that end up being sore like that of Sarah and Hagar. It can be destroying emotionally and we may end up losing trust with our loved ones or other believers.
James 3:16 says that ‘where there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there will be disorder and every evil practice’. That definitely echoes with what happened between Sarah and Hagar and definitely in our day to day relationships. So the question is, is it possible to live free from selfish ambition and jealousy? If Sarah had been patient and not be driven to having a child from another woman (read selfish ambition), they would have continued with their friendship don’t you think? On the flip side, if Hagar would have continued to be a faithful servant and not yield to envy and jealousy, would the friendship have blossomed, I suppose Yes! The book of James continues to say in verses 4:7 ‘Submit to God. Resist the Devil and He will flee from you! This implies that, God has to be the author of life, if we submit to Him all these evil desires will not be a concern to us and will melt away. Jesus Christ is the greatest author of friendships; He showed His utmost love for us by giving up His life for our sins.
Our friendships do not have to end up like that of Sarah and Hagar but we can choose to reconcile and forgive for our own sakes. This may not be possible by our own strength because we are bound by evil desires that emerges from our flesh, but glory be to God, when you believe in Jesus Christ as your savior, the Holy spirit indwells in us, the fruit of the Spirit will be manifest and we will exercise all that is in Him in accordance to the Word of God. We will have that tranquil heart that is described by King Solomon in the Proverbs. In conclusion, Ephesians 4:32 says, ‘Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you’. We did not deserve to be forgiven Jesus Christ just did it for the great love that He had for us. Go forth and show forgiveness to one another and don’t allow your bones to rot (sic)!
A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. Proverbs 14:30