Life presents us with many tests—many opportunities to determine what is in us, and many opportunities for us to sink to the lowest or to rise to the highest.
Life presented Abram with many tests. When he faced the test of scarcity, with a severe famine in the land, his trust in God floundered, and he fled to Egypt. When he faced the test of fear, his integrity floundered, and he passed his wife off as his sister. In Genesis 13 and 14, Abram faces tests of prosperity (abundance). Genesis 13:2 tells us that when Abram came back to Canaan from Egypt, he “was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.” Verses 5-6 add, “Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, so that the land could not support both of them living together.” How will Abram handle himself in this test?
A student once sent a letter to Jay Kesler. In the letter he asked, “I have been told that money is the root of all evil…. Is it all right for Christians to have money? What attitude should a Christian have toward wealth?”
Kesler answered, “First of all, it’s the love of money, not money itself, that is a root of all kinds of evil. People sometimes toss around a little slogan: Love people; use things. Unfortunately, we often turn that around: we use people and love things. The Bible suggests a word that has helped me: ‘stewardship.’ Nothing we have—time, money, talents, resources—belongs exclusively to us. The resources belong to God and are merely loaned to us. We are stewards, managers. The Bible does not make an issue of how much money we have so much as our use of it and our attitude toward it.
“God allows some people to acquire a large amount of money. They are responsible to use it wisely according to Christian values. Others have less. But certainly by global standards, most Americans are wealthy. Sin comes when one is selfish or irresponsible in the use of income or accumulated wealth, regardless of degree. Wealth should be used to help others, particularly those in need….
“It is not hard to see, then, where both communism and capitalism conflict with Christianity. Communism assumes that wealth itself is bad. And capitalism allows wealth to be used selfishly. Christianity, on the other hand, calls for a compassionate use of what we have. But when 10 percent of the world’s population uses 90 percent of the world’s resources, something is out of focus.”
When the love of money consumes us, we close our hearts to others; we set aside compassion and we set aside ethics; we love things and use others; we step on others to get the things we want.
We see a bit of this attitude in Lot. When choosing what land to take, Lot made careful consideration of the economic factors but overlooked the moral and spiritual factors. Though Abram was his elder and should have had first choice of the land, and though Lot should have at least offered to share the good land with his uncle, Lot “chose for himself all the plain of the Jordan.” Lot then turned a blind eye on the corruption of Sodom and kept moving closer and closer until he took up residence in the wicked city.
But Abram did not become consumed by the love of money. In the midst of conflict with his nephew over desired grazing land, Abram approached Lot with gentleness and consideration. His priority was peace with his nephew rather than profit. He was willing to suffer loss for the sake of his relationship with Lot. When a foreign army attacked Sodom and carried Lot away as a slave, Abram did not gloat self-righteously that Lot got what he deserved, nor did he hide himself away to protect himself and his goods. He risked his life in battle to rescue Lot. When the king of the wicked city of Sodom offered to reward Abram, with the possible obligation of being beholding to him, Abram turned it down. Abram’s integrity mattered more to him than the accumulation of wealth. Instead, Abram tithed a tenth of everything to Melchizedek, priest of God Most High.
Abram passed this test. Integrity, faithfulness, and concern for others mattered more to Abram than wealth.