Four Bible Characters with Flaws That Fueled Their Faith
Many people attain to great character strengths in the process of dealing with their flaws. Here are the stories of four people who demonstrate that we can find purpose in our flaws. They show us how their flaws initiated and fueled their faith:
- Naaman’s health flaw led him to healing from, and faith in, the God of Israel.
- Rahab’s moral flaw introduced her to men who drew out her kindness, which was regarded as an act of faith.
- Zacchaeus’ physique flaw led him to a personal encounter with Jesus, who referred to him as a son of Abraham.
- Saul’s religious flaw showcased his passion which he transferred to new tasks God assigned him.
1. Naaman's Health Flaw
For Naaman's complete story, see 2 Kings 5: 1-15
Naaman was an accomplished soldier in the Syrian army. Yet, whenever his story is told, his military achievements receive just a mention, and the focus is on his leprosy. Sometimes, one flaw becomes the identification of an otherwise good person.
In Naaman’s case, there is good reason for remembering his disease. It teaches a lesson, namely:
No man's greatness, or honour, can place him out of the reach of the sorest calamities of human life . . . Every man has . . . something that blemishes and diminishes him, some allay to his grandeur, some damp to his joy. - Matthew Henry's Commentary
There was no cure for leprosy in Syria. The expected outcome was that Naaman’s health would gradually worsen and cause his death. The suggestion for his healing came from a little maid (captured in one of his raids on Israelite territory) that he should see an Israelite prophet in Samaria. The prophet sent him a message to go dip in the river Jordan seven times.
Namaan expected a healing process befitting his social and military stature. Either the prophet would come out to see him and deliver instant healing, or at the least, send him to a more prestigious river. He fussed and was tempted to walk away. In the end, the issue was how badly he wanted the cure for his leprosy.
His desire for healing fueled his humility, his obedience, his faith in the prophet and in the prophet’s God. He followed the instructions, received his healing and expressed his personal belief in God.
2. Rahab's Moral Flaw
For Rahab's complete story, see Joshua 2: 1-22, 6: 1-23, Hebrews 11:31.
Joshua, the Hebrew leader, sent his men to spy on Jericho in preparation for his destruction of the city. Where was the best place for the spies to go without being conspicuous? What about the home of a prostitute where men occasionally went in and out? Besides, the house on the city wall was easily accessible.
Rahab had the reputation of being a prostitute, even when she was listed among people who demonstrated outstanding faith. So how was the faith of this prostitute-turned-righteous woman fueled by her immoral habit?
Rahab’s habit of receiving men took on new purpose when she encountered men who were godly. When the king found out that the men in her house were spies and demanded that she put them out, she denied that she knew where they were. The record gives neither praise nor condemnation for her lie. Her act of saving the men’s lives was considered as an act of faith.
She expressed faith in the God of the Hebrews, for she had heard of the victories He had won for His people. She asked the men that on their return to destroy Jericho, they spare her life and the lives of her relatives.
Rahab is commended for her faith which led her to abandon her old lifestyle when she received the men who showed her a better way to live.
3. Zaccheus's Physique Flaw
For Zacchaeus' complete story, see Luke 19: 1-10.
Zacchaeus’ position as IRS chief was no compensation for the short stature he inherited. When he heard that Jesus was passing through town, he realized that his physique flaw would prevent him from seeing the phenomenal Master Teacher.
Fueled by his determination to see despite his limitation, the short man began to think tall. His thoughts might have progressed like this:
- Short legs can walk--walk ahead of the crowd to gain an advantage.
- Legs that can walk can run--run ahead for an even greater advantage.
- Legs that can run, can climb-- climb up into that sycamore tree.
Zacchaeus advanced from not getting a view, to getting the best view. Would he have put forth such effort to see Jesus, if he were average height? His limitation fueled his faith and for that, Jesus gave him personal attention by going to his house.
In the company of Jesus, Zacchaeus promised restitution to any tax payers he might have robbed. He received salvation—a growth spurt in character.
4. Saul's Religious Flaw
Saul was later known as Paul. For this part of his story, see Acts 8: 1-3, 9:1-17.
Saul, a member of the religious sect called the Pharisees, was highly opposed to the followers of Christ. He sought and received permission from the high priest to persecute, even to imprison any Christians he would meet during his travel to Damascus. Near the end of that journey, he had an experience which changed his passion from self-willed and ignorant to godly and inspired.
A blinding light from heaven struck him suddenly, and he fell to the ground. He heard a voice say, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
His response was surprising, “Who are you, Lord?”
Why did Paul think that it was God’s voice? Is it possible that his gut feeling told him all along the Christians were doing the will of God? Or perhaps, because of his zeal to please God, God revealed Himself to Saul. The self-assured bigot realized that he was wrong, after all.
No wonder that the lessons burned in on him in that hour of destiny became the centre-point of all his future teaching! - MacLaren's Expositions
With the same zeal that he persecuted the Christians, Saul, later called Paul, become one of the greatest promoters of Christianity. His epistles to the churches he planted have become Scriptural sources for many Christian doctrines.
What kind of flaw (if any) has helped you develop good character?
© 2014 Dora Weithers