Monday, June 25, 2007

Humanity in Sin Part 15 – Abram and Lot

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 10th June 2007 in GRIIS. It was preached in Indonesian and I personally translated to English. Newton Life has it preached in Mandarin with English translation.

Passage: Genesis 13

Many people attend the same meetings, hear the same preaching but there are different results. Some hear once and their lives are changed forever. Others hear every week and never change at all. Many have the same opportunities and same baptism but end up very differently. Why is that so? Peter brought many people to Christ while Judas hanged himself.

What is the priority and the main thing looked for by people who attend church service? On the outside, all look similar but within ourselves, only God knows.

After Abram returned from Egypt, he went to Negeb. Lot followed him along. But Lot had a different way of thinking. He looked more at the profit of the world so later on he was left out from the blessings later on.

As for Abram, he prioritized God wherever he went. He always lived his life before God. As Kierkegaard said, “To exist is to be oneself alone before God.” Lot followed Abram but his main motivation was not to understand the spirituality of Abram, rather it was more because of material blessings.

If as Christians we do not put God first, we are setting trap for ourselves. Whether a person’s spirituality is good or not is not seen in how active his involvement in church is or how good he does his work, but in how he reahts when conflicts of interests arise, particularly pertaining to material interests. God sees not how much we give, but how much we keep for ourselves. Our faith in God cannot rest in material security.

In this passage, conflict of interest happened between an uncle and a nephew. If servants dare to fight against another’s servants, it means they no longer fear the master of the other servants. How else could they not fear unless they have the back-up from their own master? Parents know very well when their children become disrespectful of them. They are very sensitive about it so do not think we can fool them. If elders do not speak, it does not mean they know nothing. Abram is very wise. He did not approach Lot’s servants but went directly to their master Lot and told him, “You and I should not quarrel. Your shepherds and my shepherds should not quarrel too. Because we are relatives.”

Abram proposed separation to resolve the conflict of interest. Abram gave in because his spirituality is higher. He showed that he did not want to fight for material wealth. He believed that riches also came from God, not from fighting. This is the way a wise elderly handled a rude youth. But Lot still did not understand. Instead of feeling guilty, he took the chance to take the fertile land since he was given the choice to choose first.

Separation is all right if God allows it. But if it is done for personal interest, we have to be careful. Many young people try to get all their fathers’ wealth and start to insult them when their parents are old. We always have to remember what our parents have sacrificed for us. Lot is an example of an unfilial person. Many Christians, unfortunately, are not even as filial as non-Christians.

What Lot saw was a beautiful place but it did not have eternal value. After his separation from Abram, he no longer had the chance to hear God’s word. It is only by God’s grace that we can hear His Word. Lot had no more part in God’s eternal blessings because he had got what he wanted. If a person gets what he wants but never gets what God wants him to get, his victory is his defeat. Lot went closer and closer to Sodom and Gomorrah and did not see God’s plan of destruction. When we get something, we lose another thing. If we get material wealth in exchange of the spiritual, we are very stupid. The decision to build a casino in Singapore is one such example. People do not realize what they are losing in exchange of what they want to gain.

God spoke to Abram again when Lot left. The blessings from God is forever and whatever that is of men is temporary. Abram saw as God wanted him to see. We need to learn to see what God sees. If we see wrongly, our descendents will be problematic. But if we see right, our descendants will be blessed. Seeing and entering or inheriting come together. The Scripture says that we are not born of the Spirit, we will not see and inherit the kingdom of God. Our faith becomes our sight and our entering becomes our enjoyment. Faith is like our eyes. It wants to understand the truth and the essence of grace.

God asked Abram to walk the land of promise from north to south and from east to west. This symbolizes the cross. If we carry the cross of Christ we will gain everything, as promised in Matt.6:33. God promised to make the descendants of Abram as the sands of the earth. And we know today that the true descendants of Abraham are not the children by birth, but they are the children of the faith. And after that encounter with God, once more Abram built an altar for Him.


At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We always have to remember what our parents have sacrificed for us. Lot is an example of an unfilial person. Many Christians, unfortunately, are not even as filial as non-Christians.

The irony is that, many times, this happened when young Christians thought they were doing certain things for God. And that their parents were not able to see that. Whether those were really from God or not; only God knows.


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