A Lecture in Ethics

Lou Lotz

READ : Genesis 12:10-20

Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you. (v. 13)

Poor Pharaoh. God staggers Egypt with terrible plagues, and although Pharaoh senses
that he is being punished, he doesn’t know why. We know why—the newest member of
Pharaoh’s harem, Sarai, is another man’s wife! Pharaoh thinks that Sarai is Abram’s
sister. “Say you are my sister,” Abram instructed Sarai, “that it may go well with me
because of you.” Abram twists a half-truth into a whole lie, but Pharaoh is the one who is
punished for it.

Finally, Pharaoh learns the truth. Summoning Abram, Pharaoh lashes out: “What is this
you have done to me? Why did you not tell me she was your wife?” Abram and Sarai are
whisked out of Egypt, never to return.

It is a humbling fact that the Bible’s first lecture on ethics is delivered by a
gentile. And to whom is the lecture addressed? It is addressed to our father, Abraham. How
embarrassing.

We do well to remember that God’s people don’t have a corner on righteousness and right
conduct. Sometimes the truth is spoken not from the church to the world but from the world
to the church. Truthfulness, integrity, and high morals are found in the church, to be
sure. But they are also found outside the church.

PRAYER

Lord, help me to live a life of honesty and integrity. Amen.