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Maybe you’ve finally gotten the baby down for a nap. Maybe you’ve finally nailed a job interview. Maybe you’ve finally won the battle with cancer! Or, maybe the baby is still screaming after twenty rocks, the interviewer said thanks but no thanks, the chemo treatments appear never-ending and hopeless.
Come visit Genesis 14 with me.
Abram was on the top of the world. He and his men had swiftly and impressively defeated a band of kings. Lot, Abram’s nephew, was now safe and sound, rescued from a dismal fate. An Old Testament reflection of Christ, the Priest-King known as Melchizedek, even bestows on Abram an incredible blessing.
It was a glorious moment. One of those moments when it is easy to relish in the shower of praise, to leap upon reward with greediness and self-indulgence, to pridefully welcome whoever offers honor…and forget about the Lord.
But that’s not what Abram does. He doesn’t compromise his faith.
And [Melchizedek] blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”
And Abram gave him a tenth of everything. And the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.” But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ Genesis 14:19-23
The text hit me hard. When we experience success, what is our first response? Is it to gobble up every compliment, to snag every offer of recognition, even if it’s a doorway to sin?
Abram’s response, in contrast, is handing over a tenth of His winnings to the Lord – both materially and spiritually. He honors God by blessing back His Priest, and by rejecting ties with the King of Sodom. He chooses humility. He chooses righteousness. He chooses to worship.
Application Point: If we’re on a high point like Abram, we should seek to preserve our walk with the Lord, and not abandon Him.
While savoring success we are most tempted by the lie of self-sufficiency. I can do anything! Our minds race to the next opportunity, swelling with pride. In an effort to chase after dreams, Jesus can be left in the dust.
The opposite can happen too. We are so smug and self-satisfied we can lose motivation to do further good. I’ve done enough. We lose sight of God’s calling and power, which was the reason we experienced victory in the first place! Knowing this sin, let’s respond like Abram.
Look back at his refusal to take the King of Sodom’s reward. “I have lifted my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’” Why such strong language? Should we feel sad for the King of Sodom, who was only trying to be nice?
Remember this, “Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.” (Genesis 13:13) Abram was not naive. He knew the manipulative intentions behind the king’s generosity. Rather than take advantage of the deal, Abram reaffirms his loyalty to Yahweh. He demonstrates to the king His complete allegiance to God, and His desire to stay apart with darkness. He doesn’t compromise an inch, and neither should we.
Application Point #2: Are we giving back to the Lord in thankfulness? When we are victorious, whether financially or in deed, we should invest in His church with our money and time.
Lately, whenever I receive a surprise bonus, such as a full piggy-bank or a gift-card coming to surface in my wallet, my first thought is my Amazon wishlist. Maybe I could buy a book, or a new printer, or save for a trip to the Bahamas. There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of those things. But what if I could bless the Lord or His people instead? Wow. That rocked me a bit. I could send a card to someone in a spiritual valley, or donate Bibles to persecuted brothers and sisters around the world.
And if God graciously allows us to accomplish something – such as an in depth study sesh in the Bible , or a 3 mile run months after giving birth – it could spur us on to teach at Sunday school, or to bless our family with a heart of praise for the Lord. We can respond in loving and joyful service.
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Proverbs 3:27
Application Point #3: Pause for a second. What about defeat? Maybe you’re thinking, “well I don’t see any amazing victories like this happening to me anytime soon” or “I’m not struggling with my attitude in victory, I’m struggling with my attitude in suffering!” Those are two lines of thinking to change.
The principle of responding in worship and without compromise stands true even in defeat. In the lowest of lows, let’s remain steadfast in our allegiance to the Lord, and not go running for the quickest fix – especially if it betrays our trust in Him. Don’t be susceptible to the king of Sodom, or Satan’s, offers.
Like Abraham, as a believer you are a servant of the Great Possessor of heaven and earth. You are never without a victory to praise Him for, especially when it comes to your salvation.
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57
Each day there are small but significant victories that we can glorify Him in return. Continue to revel in the Mighty God who beautifully transformed you from a broken, wretched slave of sin into a righteous daughter of His Kingdom. Keep your eyes set on eternal reward, not temporary pleasure, even if it means enduring difficulty with patience (Matthew 6:19-21).
Whether we’re faithful to Him in victory or defeat, we can be encouraged by what happens next in Genesis 15. After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” (v.1)
P.S. Mourn over your moments of sinful pride and evil compromises, but do not be immobilized by them. Abram was far from perfect. He walked with integrity in this situation, but he had weak trust in God at other times (Genesis 12, Genesis 16).
Sin is real and still a possibility in the life of a faith. The difference between an unbeliever and believer is the latter acknowledges her sin and wants it out of her life! Don’t sit in shame, but run to Him in repentance. He will restore you through the beautiful grace of Christ, and you can again celebrate Him in victory.
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