So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.
From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the LORD.
Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.
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.”
Most people don’t recognize it but what we’re seeing here is one of Abram’s greatest moments! As the elder man and as Lot’s uncle, Abram could have had his own way in this matter. But he showed Lot grace and allowed him to choose his own way. Perhaps this was in response to the grace recently shown to Abram by God in Genesis chapter 12. In chapter 12 we saw that Abram lied and put his wife Sarai in a terrible and vulnerable position yet the Lord spared Sarai and Abram and sent them away with riches. (see previous post Genesis 12:10-20)
Abram allowed Lot to have it his way.
How often does this moment of truth happen upon you and me?
In the car with family I want to take the route that I think is the best.
When we’re going to a movie I want to see the one I think is best.
When we’re deciding where to vacation I want to go to the destination I think is best.
We need to do it my way!
My way is the right way!
My way is the best way!
Why can’t people see that — it’s so obvious.
But wait just a minute. Let’s take a closer look at these examples. What actually happens if we take a slower route in the car? What actually happens if we arrive two minutes later? What damage is actually done if we see a chick flick? What if we vacation in some other nice place? What problem has been caused by these outcomes? I mean really, does it make a difference that’s significant or important in any way whatsoever? Most of the time, getting your own way isn’t nearly as big a deal as it seems.
So why do we think, feel, and behave this way?
When I was younger I played some amateur competitive tennis. Oh, how I wanted to make it as a pro. Several people close to me believed that there were better paths for me to follow. I didn’t give much consideration to their wise words. I didn’t give much consideration to the path that the Lord wanted me to walk in life either. I practiced. I worked hard. I disciplined myself. I studied books on tennis technique and strategy.
I prayed for God to do it my way.
“Please Lord, help me to win this tournament.”
“Please Lord help me to get a college scholarship.”
“Lord, that other guy isn’t even a Christian, why are you allowing him to be successful? That doesn’t make sense. Lord, You’re allowing him to enjoy success and accolades while You’re allowing me to flounder! Why?
Looking back I can see now that this was my flesh speaking loud and clear. Our flesh is the reason we think, feel, and behave this way.
Ironically, today I have many friends who have been successful in tournaments. I have quite a a number of friends and acquaintances who have gone to NCAA Division 1 schools on tennis scholarships. But as it turns out, the chance of becoming a successful professional tennis player is somewhere around 1 in 13 million! Most of those guys are teaching tennis for a living. For those of you who have never tried it, that means they spend all day at work pushing tennis balls at little old ladies and at young kids that are only there because their parents make them take tennis lessons. The few rest of these that I know who aren’t teaching tennis are struggling to figure out what they want to do for a living.
I thank God I didn’t get my way. Had things gone my way I would never have entered into the fire service. My thirty years in the fire service has been a tremendous blessing. I wouldn’t trade it for a career in tennis for anything.
Getting our way. It’s interesting to me that in our culture today, getting one’s own way is associated with wealth. Yet here we have Abram, who had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold (v.2), allowing Lot to have it his way. I do believe that God sometimes bestows wealth on people who show grace to others–I’ve seen that happen repeatedly. But even if you don’t receive wealth here on earth, think of the treasure you’ll receive in heaven! (Matthew 6:20 — see previous post) Jesus told his disciples, “…he that is greatest among you let him be as the younger…” (Luke 22:26) And that is precisely what Abraham did with Lot.
Remember back in Genesis chapter 12 when Abram lied to the Egyptians and allowed his wife to be put at risk in Pharaoh’s harem? God showed Abraham incredible grace and mercy by sparing Sarah and Abraham and even enriching them in the process. In the very next chapter we see Abram showing grace to Lot. Remember the grace that’s been shown to you. “…my blood which is shed for you,” Jesus said. He spilled his blood for you, he died for you. In spite of what you’ve done, God, in His grace and mercy, has provided a way for you to enter into heaven.
So show grace to people even as God has shown grace to you by sending His only Son to die on your behalf.
Getting your own way is usually less important than you think. And most importantly, showing grace to others as Abram did to Lot is the way God desires for you.
Love…does not insist on its own way
1 Corinthians 13:5 (ESV)
Why Grace Changes Everything by Chuck Smith