Saturday, January 06, 2007

Greed and its fruit

Abram and his nephew Lot both had livestock. Lots of livestock. Way too much livestock. It was time to go their separate ways. Abram, as the elder, had the right to say, "Take your flocks and herds over there; I'll go (or stay) over here. But instead he gave Lot his choice.
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. Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered.... So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east.
from Genesis 13.9-11
Bible teachers have noted that Abram was remarkably generous in offering Lot this choice. Here's something I wonder about. Why did Lot take for himself the "whole plain of the Jordan"? Could he not have said "the left bank of the Jordan" for example?

So what happened to Lot? Well, the next thing we read about is war -- and with it, kidnapping:
The 4 kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. They also carried off Abram's nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.
Genesis 14.11-12
Abram rescues Lot, who unfortunately returns to Sodom. You may know what happened later, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. The point here is that Lot took the best land (or so it seems) for himself, and ended up getting kidnapped. This is not to say that greed always brings disaster, but it did this time.

How could Abram have been so generous? Here's what I think. Earlier, the Lord had appeared to Abram and gave him a bunch of promises: he'd be a blessing to the nations, his offspring would inherit the land, this sort of thing. Abram had confidence based on faith in the Lord's promise, so minor details like pastureland and water were not a big deal to him. I also think Abram knew about the great blessings that the Lord had already bestowed upon him.

I don't know what that does for you, but it makes me wary of greed, and it makes me want to be like Abram. May the Lord help us so!

written 1/6, posted 1/7

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