Cutting Corners

Genesis 14:23 “I will accept nothing belonging to you.”

Observation: Abram had just returned from defeating a group of allied kings who had earlier routed the king of Sodom. In the original battle, the allied kings had taken captive Abram’s nephew Lot along with his entire household. In gratitude for Abram’s victory, Sodom’s king greeted Abram upon his return and offered to give to Abram all the property he had recaptured. Abram responded by relating an oath he had already made to God regarding the king of Sodom: “I have taken an oath to the Lord, God most high, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’”

Application: The king of Sodom is merely a bit player in this story. Abram had not gone to war on Sodom’s behalf; without Lot’s capture, Abram would surely not have given Sodom’s captivity a second thought. Indeed, to have taken booty from the king would have made Abram little more than a hireling, a mercenary in the service of the vilest of kingdoms.

Abram chose to look only to God for his provision. Shortly after Abram had left the king, the Lord spoke approvingly in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” (v. 15:1)

Could any sweeter word than this have come to Abram? He had declined to cut corners to great wealth by rejecting Sodom’s temptations. He would not owe any man for his prosperity, but would look to God alone.

I wonder: in what illegitimate ways have I tried to gain advantage? How many corners have I cut to save a few dollars here, or to gain some advantage there, all the while professing my undying love for Him? Many are the ways it’s done…questionable tax deductions, or fulfillment of a contract with less than my best effort…use of cheaper materials than the job requires, or repeated slothfulness in giving a full day’s work for wages paid. There must be a hundred ways…no, a thousand ways in which flesh gathers earthly rewards, all the while stifling a still, small voice persistently saying, “I will show you a more excellent way.” (1 Cor. 12:31 )

Prayer: Lord Jesus, how Your heart is saddened when I fail Abram’s test of rejecting Sodom’s proffered payment. Forgive me, Lord. I choose this day a renewed course of utter dependence upon You. You alone are the Lord, God most high, Creator of heaven and earth.

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