Genesis 13:1-9 If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.
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
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. -Genesis 2:24-25
Cleaving Without Leaving
Many young people today are attempting the first part of Genesis 2:24, becoming one flesh, but leaving out the second part of the verse, leaving their father and mother. I believe many marriages suffer unnecessarily, or even fail, because without the second part, leaving father and mother, the first part, becoming one flesh, doesn’t work very well. Independence from mom and dad is a huge key to a healthy marriage. A husband and wife must form a team of three: the husband, the wife, and their God. When a dad and/or mom is involved it becomes a team of 4 or 5. Or if both sets of parents are involved, a team of seven! God’s way is the best way, and it’s up to us as parents to allow our kids to separate, to leave. Because if they don’t leave, emotionally as well as physically, then they won’t cleave. The parents I see who fall into the trap of over involvement are the same parents who cause problems in the marriages of their kids and in their kids relationship with Jesus too. Too much involvement in our adult kids’ marriages makes things worse instead of better. Young married people, especially you husbands, insist on independence. Guard your marriage from your parent’s over involvement, in a loving and gracious manner, but with tenacity. For you to be successful in your marriage your spouse must come before your parents, and your God must come before your spouse.
And in case you’ve already successfully left your parents, be sure to leave others as well. Friendship with those of the opposite sex, the kind of friendship that involves time alone together, even small amounts of time alone together, is nearly always found at the beginning of an adulterous relationship. Don’t do it. Don’t invest in that relationship at work or at the gym, even if you don’t feel an attraction. As you invest your heart will inevitably follow as Jesus said in Luke 12:34. And as God says to us in Proverbs 6:27-28, Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?
Jesus on Divorce
Jesus quoted from Genesis 2:24 when the Pharisees came to trap Him with a question. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” (Matthew 19:3) They probably thought, “If we can get Jesus to say that divorce is not permitted, not God’s will, then we can quote the law of Moses and, BOOM, the trap is shut, we’ve got him.” But Jesus went back to the beginning, to God’s original plan for marriage, before the law was given to Moses. Jesus from Genesis 2:24,
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)
Perhaps at this point the Pharisees, realizing that they’d been out maneuvered, asked the following question, as a last ditch effort to salvage their trap…
“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” (Matthew 19:7)
But Jesus replied,
“Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:8-9)
Divorce Reality Check
Today we’ve seen a rather large cultural shift from divorce being such a negative to a new perception of divorce as a liberating, freeing, positive experience. A single parent household, a man and woman living together unmarried perhaps with children, these are seen as acceptable alternative lifestyles. What’s being completely ignored is the well being of the children of divorce. The vast majority of children from divorced families surveyed say they’d like to see their original family back together. Have you heard that statistic before? Probably not. Five years after divorce more than a third of children experienced depression. Even at 10 years and 15 years after divorce, many of the children involved had significant problems. Children from divorced families were found to be less successful in life than children from intact families, particularly in the areas of relationships and careers.
Most of the time the custody of the children goes to the mother. What’s not a part of the public discussion is that about half of all single mothers live below the poverty line. And this desperate economic circumstance is not for the short haul — on average it lasts for six years after a divorce. For African American single mothers it’s much worse, 10 years after divorce only 33% of African American mothers were remarried, the rest continued in financial distress. (McLanahan-Garfinkel)
So don’t close your eyes to the devastation caused by divorce. Build your marriage on the foundation of Jesus Christ and His word. Invest in your wife, invest in your husband and your heart will follow. Follow His ways, in life, and in your marriage.
Sex a Gift from God
Finally notice in Genesis 2:25 that God provided that The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. God very specifically tells us in Hebrews 13:4 that His plan for the marriage bed is for it to be undefiled. Sex inside of marriage is a gift from Him, and shame has no part in it. When you invest in your wife, when you invest in your husband, do so in all areas including your physical relationship. For God tells us in 1 Corinthians 7:4-5
The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
[Image via: Maria Rosaria – Creative Commons]
Single Mothers and Their Children, Sarah McLanahan and Irwin Garfinkel, 1986
Genesis 2:19-23 — But for Adam no suitable helper was found. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man.
Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found.
So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
Notice that Adam didn’t settle for less than what God had in mind for him. As the animals were brought before him to name, Adam obediently named each creature but, because for Adam no suitable helper was found (Genesis 2:20) Adam didn’t take any of God’s creatures to be his help meet. Today it seems men and women try to find their future mate in the energy of their flesh — visiting bars, clubs, or subscribing to an online dating service. The results are usually dismal. Many of these who marry find themselves heartbroken later. If your single, make your requests known unto the Lord, during this single season of your life, with thanksgiving. (Phillipians 4:6-7) Don’t settle. As Matthew Henry said, “If we graciously rest in God, God will graciously work for us and work all for good.”
Men should take notice that while the man was created from the dust of the earth, the woman was created from the rib of the man. (Genesis 2:21-22) The woman is double refined and the very last of God’s creations on earth. Could it be that God saved the very best for last? While Adam is the first creature to be created in God’s image and the leader or the head, one could say that the woman is the crown that is to be worn upon the head.
Women should take notice that the man, while assigned to be the head, will never be everything you want him to be. As my pastor says, “A rib was taken from Adam and men have been missing something ever since!” The only man that will never let you down is the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Give your man a break, don’t put an expectation on him to fulfill your every need because he can’t. Put your hope in Jesus. The first Adam was commanded by God to name the animals, the last Adam was named “Jesus” when Joseph was commanded by God to do so in Matthew 1:21. The Hebrew form of the name Jesus is Yeshua which is a contraction of the Hebrew name Yahwehshua which means “Yahweh is salvation.” Your husband can’t completely satisfy or save you but Jesus can. Put your hope in Him.
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35) “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)
[Image: Catacombs of Saints Marcellinus and Peter (first half fourth century) by jimforest – Creative Commons]
Chuck Smith, Living Water, p. 38, Word for Today, 2007