Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.”
– Genesis 9:20-25 ESV
This passage always felt a little extreme to me. Noah plants some vines, grows some grapes, makes a little wine and proceeds to get himself drunk and naked. Ham steps into Noah’s tent for whatever reason and sees the state of Noah. He slips out and tells his brothers what he saw, the brothers take a blanket in and cover Dad up, and then Ham and his descendants get cursed.
I remember having this story told to me when I was younger and it was presented to me that Ham had mocked his father in front of his brothers completely showing disrespect to him, and that this was a sin against God Himself. Well, I don’t see all of that here. I see that he saw Dad and told his brothers and Dad cursed Him. That is what the plain English in front of me says, and I even checked it against the KJV, so we know we can’t argue with the facts presented as they are!
So, I’ve put some thought into this today to figure out why Ham was punished. I see no mocking in the account, so, sorry flannel graph board, that was not the reason. I see no overt sin against God either, but I am not going to say that is out of the question since Noah was God’s man at this time in history, and one thing you never want to do is mess with God’s man. I think it all comes down to one simple thing – Honor.
We often hear about how we are supposed to give someone honor in the things that we do and say publicly. Words of respect or actions that show people how much we esteem someone are common ways we express honor, but is that the only way? I don’t think so. Honor can also be shown in what we do behind the scenes. We can honor people in authority by giving them honor publicly, and we can also honor them by not talking about something done privately. I’m playing in an area here that needs to be worked out, so bear with me.
In no way am I suggesting glossing over the sin of those in authority over us. That needs to be addressed, but out in front of everyone is not the most constructive way to do it. It shows no honor to the person you are working with. At the very least it shows your lack of respect, and in reality, it is just gossip. It brings no help to the situation, and will lead to a painful result for those involved.
Let’s play this out a different way. Noah gets drunk, Ham stops by to see how Dad is doing and sees his Dad passed out and in an embarrassing state. He grabs a blanket and covers him up and waits outside for Dad to wake up. Shem and Japheth swing by and ask what he’s doing and he says, “Just waiting to talk to Dad. He’s taking nap.” Noah wakes up and steps outside to see Ham waiting for him. “Dad, can we talk?” I’m betting there would not be a curse there. Ham probably would have just taken a big step in Dad’s eyes.
Sin is sin. Whether it comes from me or from someone in authority over me, it is sin. My response to that sin will say a lot about where I am in my journey. I have a choice to reach out privately and show honor to a person who has done wrong, or I can just take it to anyone around with an ear that is not preoccupied. While gossip is a culturally accepted norm, it is not a Relentless way to live.
Relentless Growth demands a higher standard of honor. It demands that the matter be addressed in a way that allows the offender to maintain dignity and take ownership of their behavior. Honor is given. A relationship is allowed to strengthen. Forgiveness and restoration can take place. Here’s the clincher – nobody else needs to know about it. Granted there are always going to be things that happen that do need to be disclosed, but following this allows the offender to do it with honor by admitting they were wrong and being accountable for what they did.
I’ve been on both sides of this issue in the past. I’ve handled both sides of it well at times, and terribly at times. If we are honest we all would have to say the same thing. Nice thing is, that is all behind us now. When we wake up tomorrow, we will have a new opportunity to do the right thing. Feels good, doesn’t it?
So, think about that person who has done you wrong. What are you doing about it? Have you gone to them to talk? Have you gone to someone else? What do you need to do to make it right? What are you waiting for? You’ve got a great chance to grow through this, and you might even help someone else grow too!
This is the last post of 2014. If I have done my math correctly my next post will be my 100th post, and the beginning of my third year writing this blog. Hard to believe that I have been doing this for two years now! I appreciate all of you who have been reading, and I hope that I have made it worth the time.
I’m excited to see where God takes me over this next year. He has been doing some things in my life that have had my head spinning, and I am constantly amazed at how His hand is working day in and day out. I want to continue to share that with you all, and I hope it encourages you to be Relentless in your growth in Christ.
Thanks for reading!