Sacrificing Short-Term Spoils for Eternal Wealth

Sermon Titled “A Tale of Two Kings” (Genesis 14) – June 16th, 2013

In Genesis 14, Abram’s nephew Lot is carried off by four hostile kings, but later pursued and rescued by Abram and 318 of his best fighting men. When Abram returns with Lot, as well as those captured with him and all of their possessions, the King of Sodom strategically suggests to Abram that he keep all of the possessions and return just the people. Why? Because he probably had the good sense to realize that Abram would make a better ally than enemy.

Abram had already sworn allegiance to another king however, King Melchizedek of Salem, who was also priest of the most High God. In response to Melchizedek’s blessing upon him, Abram gave to him a tenth of all he had and vowed to accept nothing from King Bera of Sodom.

To put all of this into a more time-relevant context, we can use this story to encourage us to choose God’s blessings (and His ways), versus the tangible commodities offered by the world, along with its seductive but misleading ways.

In Pastor Reimer’s explanation of this passage of scripture, he made reference to the following quote:

  • Sin takes you further than you want to go, it makes you stay longer than you want to stay, and costs you more than you want to pay.

This quote made me think of the many times that my husband has jokingly insisted that I should have been named Jiminy Cricket. I once used one of the pens at church to write notes with, and later realized that I had taken the pen home with me; the following week I returned it. On another occasion, while traveling, I received a compensatory gift voucher from the airline I flew with because they thought their entertainment system was not going to be available during the flight. Before take-off however, the entertainment system was repaired and we were able to watch movies after all. I could have still redeemed the voucher but I chose not to. It’s these small acts that have prompted my husband to make fun of me and call me Jiminy Cricket.

But here’s the reason why I choose to do things that may seem foolish and unnecessary to others. First of all, there’s an element of moral integrity involved. Abram, for example, was legally entitled to keep the possessions that he and his men had retrieved, but he knew that in doing so he would enter into fellowship with a king who was irrefutably living in sin. I too, could choose to take or keep things that fall into my possession by default (even things like the extra change given to me by a cashier who miscounted, or the IPod someone lost – their loss, my gain, right?), but there is a moral and spiritual obligation that tells me not to.

greed

Furthermore, and this is getting back to where I was going with the quote mentioned above, it’s the small acts of sin that lead to bigger acts of sin. Luke 16:10 says, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” If you don’t believe this, just think of the kid who tells a lie, then tells another lie, and another lie, until eventually there is no conviction and lying becomes the norm. Or think of the adulterous spouse, who started out by entertaining a few harmless thoughts, which progressed to a little harmless flirting, and eventually turned into a full-blown affair.

The tale of two kings demonstrates how easy it is to fall into a life of sin when we take from the “wrong” king. In other words, we are warned that even though we are often entitled to carnal gifts and opportunities that may seem harmless at first, we would be wise to reject them. It is the accumulation and pursuit of such things that will eventually lead to our downfall, and our best defense is to just say “No!”

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