Today’s Reading: Genesis 14.
(Context: War breaks out in what is today the area surrounding and in the Dead Sea, which at this time didn’t exist. Abram allies with Sodom and Gomorrah because he has lost his nephew, Lot. He regains what the other kings loose, and then doesn’t ask for a penny.)
This past Saturday I was speaking at a youth group in town and a older youth asked me, “Does God want to make us rich?” In my message I had been talking about a very dangerous sect that is rapidly growing in South America called G12. One of my critiques of the group was their teaching of the Prosperity Gospel. I hadn’t gone into great detail, but spent more time on it with him on a personal level for the next hour.
In the Old Testament we see so many rich people, especially one’s like Abraham, Joseph, David, and Solomon. Yet, where these people pursuing wealth? I would answer no in every case. At the same time there is another question, did they become wealthy for following God? The answer is yes. It’s not a crime to be wealthy, and usually Christians get richer because for their lifestyle. For example, they don’t spend excess cash on alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, entertainment, etc. They live more moderately, in general. So what’s the problem with the “Prosperity Gospel”?
If one lives for wealth, he dies for wealth. We, as Christians, are called to live for Christ (Philippians 1:21), and not for this world. The problem is not money, for it is a great tool from God, instead it is the love of money.
The young man told me on Saturday night how God had blessed him once he became a Christian, having left behind the mountain of lies in the ultra-Pentecostal churches elsewhere. How ironic, I thought. There they were promising prosperity, yet all he did was get poorer from paying-out-the-nose to support their “ministries”, a.k.a. the over-the-top wealth of pastors and leadership. He told me he had gotten his life together after leaving these churches, because now he was focusing on Christ, not the money.
At the end he told me one thing that stuck with me though: “Chris, I don’t want to fall in love with money again. I pray that God will help me use the money for his glory, whether I am rich or poor.” Well said.
This is exactly what I find in Abram, here in Genesis 14. Having won a great victory, by cleaning up the mess of the Kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, he gives every “penny” back to them. He had done it to save his nephew, Lot, but was not about to identify himself with the sick deprivation of Sodom and Gomorrah, which surely he was aware of. This is because sin doesn’t just appear all of a sudden, but grows like a cancer and takes over like gangrene. They were already neck-deep in their city-wide sexual deprivation and it was only growing. Abram instead decided to honor God, and show them kindness and mercy, without asking anything in return.
To end here would be to forget another great event in Genesis 14, God’s blessing of Abram through Melchizedek. Ironically, again Abram gives again here, being more pleased to be blessed by God spiritually than only materially. By the way, it didn’t go to shabby for Abram materially either, a great man of God. God choose to bless him materially and spiritually. Yet why did God not bless Elijah, Jeremiah, or Isaiah materially?
Because it’s not “all about the Benjamins”. It’s all about Jesus, and our future home with Him.