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10 Biblical greats who had imperfections like the rest of us


Giovanni Bellini | Public Domain via Wikipedia

Cerith Gardiner - published on 01/28/21 - updated on 01/27/22

The Bible reminds us that no one is perfect ... and that's okay!

The Bible is full of men and women who played important roles in salvation history. Reflecting on them can be a good reminder that even with their admirable qualities and virtues, many of them had their own very human struggles.

From addictions to questionable temperaments to very poor choices… they weren’t always so saintly. So while you and I might get disheartened about our own vices and imperfections (especially with many of our New Year’s resolutions falling by the wayside), we are in perfect company!

Noah drank too much.

If your bid to partake in a dry January has failed, don’t lose heart. While better known for his impressive ark-building skills, in Genesis 9: 20-23, Noah owned a vineyard and was partial to a bit of wine. His sons actually discovered him in a state of undress and covered him up to preserve his dignity.

Jonah ran away from God.

Sometimes we may start the new year with the best intentions of developing our faith. While you may not be spending the time you wanted on your prayer life, remember some holy men and women even turned away from God at a point in their lives. When Jonah saw that God’s anger towards the Nineveh and the Assyrians had subsided, he was furious. Considering them to be so wicked and evil, Jonah couldn’t bear God’s mercy towards them. In fact, so much so, he ran away. (Jonah 4:2)

Miriam was a gossiper.

Many of us aim to be kinder to people, whether loved ones or strangers, by not saying things behind their backs. And it is incredible to think that the beloved sister of Moses, who had protected and cared for him with such devotion, would have gossiped about the state of her brother’s marital relations — but she did. In Numbers 12: 1 we hear of her chatting carelessly to Aaron about it, which resulted in her being excluded from the camp for 7 days.

Paul enabled and oversaw killings.

It’s hard to think that the Apostle Paul actually aided the stoning of someone, but in Acts 7-8, Paul — named Saul at the time — guarded the clothes of those who were stoning Stephen. Furthermore, Paul enabled the persecution, and subsequent death, of some of Jesus’ followers due to completing certain administrative duties from the high priests.

Moses struggled with a speech impediment.

It’s difficult to imagine that the powerful commands of Moses as he led his people away from slavery were given by a man who was “slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:10). Some scholars believe this referred to a stutter, while others claim it was a different sort of speech impediment. Nonetheless, speaking publicly didn’t come easy to the prophet.

Gideon suffered from insecurity.

In the Book of Gideon we see the struggles of a man who felt insecure. Faced with an army of 135,000 Midianites, Gideon needed a lot of reassuring from his Heavenly Father. Like any child who feels insecure, Gideon wanted the loving, guiding hand of his Father to embolden him to defeat the enemy with his small army of 300 men.

Elijah suffered bouts of depression.

If you feel depressed in any way, look to Elijah, who needed an angel and then God himself to pull him out of his depressed state when he questioned the depth of his faith (1 Kings 19:4-14).

David was an adulterer (and plotted a murder).

While King David’s men went off to war with the Ammonites, he stayed behind in the comfort and security of his palace. From his palace wall, he spotted a beautiful married woman named Bathsheba, bathing. He summoned her to the palace and conceived a child with her. On top of that, David ordered the death of Bathsheba’s husband. Their newborn died as a result of his sins, and it was only later that God rewarded the couple with their son, Solomon. (2 Samuel 11 and 12)

Martha harbored resentment.

This one will speak to all the hosts among us. In Luke 10, we hear how Martha was running around trying to prepare a meal for her guests. She expressed frustration that she was the only one pitching in while her sister just sat at the feet of Jesus, but to her surprise Jesus pointed out that she worried too much and everything was how it should be.

Jacob was a liar and a cheat.

The story of Jacob and Esau takes sibling rivalry to a while new level. You could say that Jacob was a bit of a con artist. He denied his brother Esau his birthright, and in Genesis 27, as his father Isaac lay dying, managed to persuade Isaac to give him the blessing meant for Esau.

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