So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. 2 Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold. 3 From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier 4 and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord. 5 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 But the land could
not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. 7 And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time. 8 So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. 9 Is not the whole land before you? 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.” Genesis 13:1-9
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
Distrust was almost Abram’s undoing. Severe famine in Canaan drove Abram and his family contingent to Egypt in search of food and a place where his herds could survive. (See Genesis 12:10-20.) Abram knew that a foreign beauty like Sarai would be quite a catch for Pharaoh’s royal harem. Not trusting Pharaoh to resist doing away with him in order to take a widowed Sarai for his own, Abram hatched a plot to pass Sarai off as his sister. On those false pretenses, Pharaoh welcomed Sarai into his royal entourage and treated Abram (Sarai’s brother, Pharaoh thought) quite well. But the subterfuge was discovered after Pharaoh’s family was stricken with odd diseases. Pharaoh refrained from retribution for Abram’s chicanery, but he ordered him and all in his nomadic clan to get out of Egypt post haste. Relations between Egyptian rulers and Abram’s family got off to a shaky start that deteriorated generations later.
Trust as a matter of faith certainly involves believing true, genuine statements about God and our proper response to God. Religious leaders work long and hard to promote sound doctrines that guide our trust in God well. But living authentically requires more than assent to statements about God. Trust is a matter of daily living in genuinely positive relationship with God and other people. Trust involves living with conviction that the other party in a relationship cares for our common good and that a superior in a relationship has the resources to provide what we trust them for our good.
Do you remember being allowed as you grew up with siblings or friends to begin making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Often you might have been allowed to share one. After spreading the components on the bread came the crucial moment of cutting the sandwich in “half.” But who could be trusted to cut the sandwich equitably? And how was the PBJ to be cut? Cutting diagnonally could leave the top edge of the bread with rounded corners that reduce the “half” in comparison to the square angle of the bottom half of the slices of bread. Cutting down the “center” of the bread might produce true halves – if the cut did not wander right or left of center. If genuine care for the common good – what is fair and equitable for ev- eryone – prevailed, then the sandwich could be shared gladly. The needs of both could be met and the relationship celebrated.
Can you think of a situation in which you feared that your welfare might be taken advantage of, leading to distrustful actions on your part? What were some of the negative consequences?
Fortunately, when Abram returned to Canaan from Egypt he seemed to have learned important lessons about trust. He came back to a place that had been important in his earlier life. He and his extended family came back to Bethel. (Remember from last week, Bethel means “house of God.”) Genesis 13:3-4 notes that Abram called on the name of the Lord here as he had before. In the next verses we find that a critical need demands an equitable solution. First, however, Abram and his tribe share worship of God.
Often exercising trust in God in shared worship is a vital first step toward trusting one another as well as we trust God. We have ever-renewing opportunities to build relationships of trust as we worship God together. That mutual trust can sustain us in times of challenge, even in positive ones.
What worship experiences at FBC can you identify that have drawn you into more trusting relationships with the larger family of faith worshipping God here? Have you met people from other generations or backgrounds as you share in worship with them? How can you reach out to trust someone who is different from you as you focus on trusting God and sharing worship together in FBC?
A real need confronted Abram, one that called for an equitable solution
if positive relationships were to continue to flourish in his extended family. There simply was not enough grazing land to provide for both Abram’s and Lot’s large herds. A pragmatic way to sustain their immediate families was needed. Feeling that their needs were not being met led different groups to quarrel with each other. But worshipping together provided a positive approach. Abram trusted Lot to work for the larger family’s common good. Abram knew that the whole land belonged to the Lord, and not to him or Lot. Whichever direction Lot wanted to take his people was okay to Abram. He trusted God to take care of him, Sarai, and their people. Hetrusted God and Lot to protect the common good of their families with his decision about which direction to lead his flock. Trusting one another gave them the foundations upon which to build their enjoyment of God’s provision for them both.
Do you trust others in FBC life to keep your needs in mind as work is undertaken for the common good? Are you trusting others to share equitably with you for the purpose of extending God’s blessings to us all, and beyond us to the world?
Centuries after Abram, the wise tactic of trust would be recorded by the writer of Proverbs. Trusting God in every situation allows us to recognize God’s provision for us. God continually “makes our paths straight.” That is, God provides the resources for living in positive relationship with God and people around us. If our trust in God is genuine, we can find pragmatic ways to share God’s resources for the common good. God certainly has more than enough to meet our own needs. We are to trust God and others to guide us in striving together positively to extend God’s blessings across all generations.
- What blessings has God given you that can be shared in trust with others to advance the gospel of Christ through FBC?
- Are you trusting God for the resources we can share to accomplish pragmatic means of meeting the needs both you and others have for God’s blessings?