Conflicting priorities are common. This is especially true with obeying God. The world’s priorities will conflict with God’s Word. We expect this but it can still be difficult to choose God over other whatever else is competing. This is especially true when the competiting priority is coming from someone close to us.
And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. – Genesis 16:2, ESV
Based on the culture around Abram and Sarai, a man being married to more than one woman was considered acceptable. Also, having a boy for which the inheritance to pass was important. By the worldly standards around Abram and Sarai, Sarai’s words made sense. Plus, for Abram, the direction was coming from his wife, the one who departed on this journey with an unknown future with him. It’s easy to see why Abram went along with Sarai.
However, while the culture found this sort of family relationship acceptable, we know from earlier verses that God didn’t. We have confirmation of this in the New Testament with Christ’s words and with the qualifications given for deacons and overseers. So though Sarai suggested it and the culture approved, it was wrong for Abram to go down this path. It was sin.
Ultimately, the marriage to Hagar and the resulting child in Ishmael would only cause problems, lots of problems, problems that exist to the present day. Sometimes we don’t see the consequences of our sin initially. Sometimes we do. And sometimes we can never understand the full impact of our sin, as it can last beyond our lives. This is the case here with Abram listening to Sarai and taking Hagar as a second wife. We see this repeated over and over again in Scripture.
The Bible is filled with examples where the men and women had conflicting priorities and either chose God or didn’t. We’re given a glimpse in each case of what some of the consequences were for the choice: enough information to leave us with an understanding that obedience to God must be first and must be our choice when faced with competiting priorities.
Are you facing conflicting priorities? What does the Bible say regarding the root issue? Maybe some of the specific details are different, but the fundamental choice and what to do can be found in Scripture. Choose God’s instruction and command. It is key to a strong faith. That decision may be hard. It may result in sacrifice. However, any other choice will be more costly in the end, and we may not be the only ones paying the price.