Our society is based on meritocracy and believe that if you are smart, talented and put in the effort, that you get rewarded for your achievements. The idea of being rewarded is pretty much ingrained in how everything works – just open up the apps on our phone and the majority of them are about rewards!
With this mindset, I am amazed every time I come across Genesis 14 when Abraham refused to take the share of the plunder obtained from rescuing Lot.
22And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, 23… that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich.Genesis 14:22-23 (KJV)
What’s ‘Right’ may not be ‘Godly’
In this case, it would seem that taking up the king of Sodom’s offer to share in the victory spoils is the right thing to do. After all, it was Abraham who upon hearing that Lot had been taken captive by the enemies of the king of Sodom and his allies, sprang into action by mobilizing his trained men and organizing the rescue. Without Abraham’s effort, the possessions would have still belonged to the enemies. Surely for his leadership and organization skills, and for successfully taking back all the men and their possessions, it was only right for Abraham to retain the spoils.
Yet to Abraham, being rewarded was not the right thing to do.
His explanation was when he would be a great nation (as was promised to him by God in Genesis 13), he didn’t want anyone to say that he was great because of them. Abraham wanted it give God the full glory and to be dependent on God, not human gifts. And maybe he did have some reservations, or was still wondering how he could become a great nation as he was still childless, because immediately in Genesis 15, God reassured him.
After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.Genesis 15:1 (KJV)
Two guideposts on doing what’s right
- Tuning into our conscience
We all have inner guideposts. Kiddo was just telling me the other day that she thought that her thoughts about something were not right. Some aspects of her media influences didn’t sit right with her, and she knew without reading any rules on what’s right or wrong. Even in the bible Paul remarked that Gentiles who had not been given the law, knew it in their hearts. Doing the right thing may disadvantage or inconvenience us, but sets us on the path of defining our better life.
15They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.Romans 2:14-15 (NIV)
Turning to God for guidance
We have the bible, prayer to God and Spirit given to us for guidance. Often though, for most of our decisions, there isn’t an outright reference to it in the bible. However, that is in no way to mean that God or the bible is useless in real life. Perhaps try this out – the next time we have a decision or a burden, we pray about it and follow-up with regular bible reading. Sometimes the answer to what is right may come in the most surprising of ways, but always one which you will know in your heart.
Doing the Right Thing
Genesis 14, 15 Journaling Prompt
Are you struggling with a decision?
Is there something which you feel is the right thing to do, but you have been putting it off?
God, I need guidance. There are times when I think I may have missed doing the right thing. No one said anything because it isn’t apparent, but I know I can do better. Give me wisdom and courage.
Books on Decision-Making
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I think I have to get a book on decision-making because I seem to make wrong decisions, especially when it comes to those that affect finances. I’m not sure if it is because wealth accumulation is not one of my values, therefore I don’t seem to be headed in the get-rich path. If you have advice for me or a book recommendation, do let me know in the comments!