Friday, March 4, 2011

Genesis 13:5-18

In our passage this morning, we see that the increase in the possessions and people with Abram creates friction and quarreling between Abram’s herdsmen and those of his nephew, Lot. Abram demonstrates great faith, humility, and generosity to Lot with his suggested resolution:

So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.” (vs. 8-9)

Here Abram gives Lot first choice at the land. Amazing! The need to be first or to get the best part of anything is such a constant struggle within us. I know you experience this every time you serve up the dessert and decide which piece to hand to your spouse, right? At work, the struggle can be greater ( wanting the bigger office, the better class, the most important client, etc.) because the consequences are greater, but the selfish tendencies are exactly the same. Whether you are arguing over who should be first in line as a first grader, or whose work team gets first pass at an important new client, there is such a need within us to have it our own way. Here, Abram proves he is the father of the faithful, when he lets go and trusts God with the outcome!

Lot, of course, jumps at the opportunity to pick the plum spot:

Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD. (vs. 10-13)

Lot looks with his eyes and sees a great deal to the east. We already noted in chapter 11 that often when the Bible refers to people moving east, it is an indication of their moving away from God. In this case it is certainly true, for Lot pitches his tent in the middle of the worldly city of Sodom!

The interesting and encouraging principle I find in the outcome here, is that when we trust God with it, and don’t try to manipulate things in our favor, God always blesses us with more than we would have asked for! My “no’s” from God have always led to much better “yes’s!” Now, I’m not talking materially here. The gain may be something material, but the better gain is spiritual: growth, peace, joy, love, etc. By giving up the “better” land to Lot, Abram gained so much more in the promise of God:

The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.” (vs. 14-17)

God’s promise is way more than what Lot took! He was giving to Abram’s offspring everything Abram could see in all directions FOREVER! In addition, Abram’s family would be far greater than Abram’s ability to count! Then God tells him to go walk the entire area, because it now belongs to Abram! WOW! Notice what Abram does as he enters into the land: There he built an altar to the LORD. (vs. 18) Of course he did!

Trusting God does not always come easily to us. Oh how we like to help God along with OUR plans! So to completely let it go takes lots of experiences of seeing Him prove His faithfulness. And have you noticed that sometimes it’s easier to trust Him with bigger things than with smaller ones? I find it easier to trust Him with Don’s pending retirement (and the loss of income) than with which fifth grade math group I get next! Oh, LORD, you have proved yourself over and over in my life! Help me to continue to let go of having to always control outcomes and just to relax in your hands!

Enjoy your weekend! Next week we’ll see how Lot’s choice proves disastrous!

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