Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Honest Abe

January 23, 2013

"Abram replied to the king of Sodom . . . 'I will not take so much as a single thread or sandal thong from what
belongs to you. Otherwise you might say, "I am the one who made Abram
rich."'" Genesis 14:22-23

On every piece of US currency appear the words, "In God We Trust."

But do we?

When it came to financial dealings Abram (later known as Abraham) proved an honest man.
I can recount at least two different times in Scripture when Abram flat-out lied about his marriage relationship and then justified his mishaps based on a technicality (technically Sarai was Abram's half-sister). But when it came to worldly riches Abram lived as a man with integrity.

In Genesis 14 Abram receives word that four enemy kings have taken his nephew Lot as a prisoner of war from the land of Sodom. If you'll recall from my previous post, A Golden Globe, because of Sodom's lush appearance Lot chose to live in the land of Sodom even though the people of Sodom were "exceedingly wicked" (Genesis 13:13). After hearing news of his nephew's capture Abram gathers his own men and pursues the enemy kings
eventually defeating them and recovering all of the stolen loot, including his nephew Lot.

Following Abram's battle the king of Sodom approaches Abram and says in Genesis 14:21, "Give back my people who were captured. But you may keep for yourself all the goods you have recovered." But Abram replies, "I will not take so much as a single thread or sandal thong from what
belongs to you. Otherwise you might say, ‘I am the one who made Abram
(Genesis 14:22-23).

If the people of Sodom were "exceedingly wicked" I can only imagine how the king of Sodom must have lived. Abram had a right to the plunder he recovered from the enemy kings. But Abram refused.
Rather than accept worldly riches from the hand of an enemy of God Abram trusted God for his great reward. Other than the food his warriors had already eaten Abram accepted nothing in return for his work except the sweet taste of victory (Genesis 14:24).

Several years later we see Abram--now Abraham--deal in a similar manner with the sons of Heth in Canaan. Though Abraham's descendents would one day inherit Canaan as their own land, at this point in history Abraham lived as a foreigner in Canaan. Following the death of his wife Sarah Abraham asks the sons of Heth for a place to bury his dead. The sons of Heth reply to Abraham, "You are an honored prince among us. Choose the finest of our tombs and bury her there" (Genesis 23:6).

The sons of Heth offer Abraham a burial tomb free-of-charge. But Abraham insists on paying full price--400 shekels of silver--for the tomb.
I can only assume Abraham carried the same attitude toward the sons of Heth as he did the king of Sodom, though Scripture doesn't exactly say.

Prior to Israel's conquest of Canaan the inhabitants of Canaan sinned greatly against the Lord. The same held true for the sons of Heth (also known as the Hittites). In Genesis 26:34-35 Abraham's grandson Esau "grieved his parents hearts" when he chose to marry a Hittite woman (um, make that two Hittite women). Once again we see that rather than accept a gift from an enemy of God Abraham chose to trust that God would provide for all of his needs.

The desire to provide for ourselves comes natural. Indeed I believe God placed inside man an innate desire to work (see Genesis 2). However, when we choose to depend only on ourselves to make ends meet, we fail to give God a chance to reveal to us His great reward. After Abram politely declined the king of Sodom's offer God appeared to Abram in a vision and said, "Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great" (Genesis 15:1).

What has God called you to do? Have you hesitated for fear of receiving little to no financial compensation in return? Have you considered accepting compensation through means which would prove displeasing to God? God knows our needs and He's promised to meet them IF we put Him first (Matthew 7:32-33).

In what . . . or in Whom do you trust?

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