Faith lets others have the better choice because we know God will take care of us.
We have a running joke in one of the two bible studies I lead. As we’re going through the book of Genesis and reading all those wonderful stories about the first heroes of the faith, we’ll comment, “We heard this story in Sunday School.” Or the comment made with a surprised laugh: “I guarantee you, I never taught THAT one to Sunday School kids!” I know I heard the story of Abraham dividing land allotments with Lot when I was a child. Both men were so rich, the land could not support all their flocks and herds, and that caused tension among the herdsmen. Diplomatic Abraham suggested they part company and he let Lot have first pick of the land. (See Genesis 13:1-11)
Sunday School teachers used this story to teach us the importance of sharing: how we ought to let others take the first turn, have the bigger piece of cake, you know, let others choose first. And if others let you choose first, you must not be selfish. Take the piece of cake nearest you, not the biggest piece. After all, look what happened to Lot because he was greedy. Sigh. That last one was hard. I was so sure I was going to starve to death if I had to eat the smaller piece of cake. I never remembered I always had enough food and there would be more tomorrow.
The Why behind sharing.
Now I have no qualms about teaching children to share. But the joy of returning as adults to these stories we heard as children is that we discover the deeper truths behind the accounts: the motivations, consequences, and God’s inner workings through those choices and actions.
Was Abraham letting Lot choose because he was Mr. Nice Guy? Or was there something more? The Bible doesn’t say, so we can’t make assumptions. But after Lot made his choice, God immediately affirmed what Abraham may not have picked up on in earlier conversations with his Promise Maker. Abraham could let Lot choose and not feel regret or resentment over Lot’s choice because of the promises God had made to him. All the land he could see, not just to the left or right, but east, west, north, and south would all belong to Abraham’s descendants one day. Not Lot’s. Abraham’s.
As the older man, Abraham had every right to choose first, choose the better land, and let Lot have the leftovers. But Abraham’s faith in God gave him the freedom to let go and let Lot temporarily have the better choice. Abraham’s faith would give him the confidence that it would all work out in the end and God would provide his needs.
I need to remember this truth daily.
Confidence in God’s faithfulness to keep His promises releases me to give so others can have, to let others go firs which runs that risk that they’ll take the best part, and let them make choices that have the potential to make life inconvenient for me. I can do that because I have faith God will keep his promises to take care of me.
That is so liberating!
How does that play out?
Here are some brain reboots I’ve done recently:
I approached the grocery store bin of eggs during the COVID shutdown. Only four dozen remained in the bin and the last store I was at had none. It was so tempting to take all four dozen. Wouldn’t I be a good manager if I did that? But a mom with three kids approached the eggs at the same moment.
Then I thought: only two people reside at my house. One dozen was enough for the week. And I’m a Christ follower. If I say I believe in God, I will trust He will provide my needs. I took one dozen, she took three. And the next time I went to another store, they had plenty of eggs.
I took flight with a local airline on a small twin engine turboprop from Burlington, Iowa to St Louis. Delayed twice due to inclement weather, the pilot finally decided to take off. Seated right behind the pilot in the eight-passenger plane, I could see straight out the front window. As we approached St. Louis, the clouds thickened until there was zero visibility. I saw lightening out the side and turbulence was, well, strong. Fear oozed through every pore of my emotional being. If there was another plane intersecting with us, we’d never see it. I reminded myself that the pilots had radar but what if the radar failed?
Then I thought, God sees through the clouds. He can see what is in front of us even if I and the pilot can’t, and His wisdom is better than any radar system. Besides, God is the one who determines when I die and if it isn’t now, that He will keep me safe. He’s promised. My faith in His promises swept aside the fear and I actually enjoyed that ethereal sensation of being surrounded and cocooned by dense fog.
We were running late to an event. I hate being late. It wasn’t my fault. I’m not driving. I’m out of control and I don’t like being out of control.
Then I realized, I’m never in control anyway. God is. And He has a wonderful way of orchestrating my time schedule. He’ll make sure I arrive where I need to be at the right time. And if that changes, He has the amazing ability to have an alternate plan that puts me where He wants me to be for His glory and His kingdom work. So, I relaxed and enjoyed the journey.
See the connection?
See how our faith in God can help us let go of our anxieties, our need to control, and our desire to claim what we think should be rightfully ours? Confidence that God will provide for us in amazing ways allows us to relax and enjoy the moment, faithfully anticipating that God is already working on something wonderful for each of us.
I suspect Abraham didn’t have all of this figured out when he and Lot stood on that hilltop overlooking the Jordon Valley. I do know, if I were him, I would second guess myself, wondering if I had done the right thing. That’s why I love Genesis 13:14-17. God immediately reassures Abraham with more specific affirmation of His promises. Yes, Abraham, this land is your land. And I think of those moments when I take tentative steps of faith that God floods my mind with promises from His word: I’m with you. I’m not done with you yet. You can do this thing through my strength.
Even if we don’t get the first, biggest, or best right now, we can depend on God to care for us and give us greater things than what sits in front of us.
Try it. Let’s relax and enjoy the journey together.
More studies on the life of Abraham
Have you missed the previous two posts about Abraham? Check out our two previous studies: