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What Not To Do

The flip side of wisdom.

Genesis 13:1–9 (ESV)

So Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb.

Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the LORD. And Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together, and there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram's livestock and the herdsmen of Lot's livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were dwelling in the land.

Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.”

Notice what’s important here. Both men are described as rich, notably in livestock. But they must separate. Why?

The answer depends on your point of view. The secular answer is so that their riches will not be hindered by the limited grazing land. But that’s not Abram’s reason—and, don’t forget, this split-up was his idea. Abram’s reason is to avoid strife.

And notice that Abram does not propose an equitable division of resources. Instead, he gives Lot his pick of where to live and simply pledges to keep his distance. From a secular point of view, that’s giving away the farm (literally).

But Abram isn’t worried about his riches. He’s worried about strife, and this solution is the perfect fix for that.

Abram has reached the point where he trusts God. His focus is not on maximizing his own success; that’s up to God. Instead, he’s focused on serving the LORD and following His will.

That’s the model for how every Christian should live. We must avoid getting sucked into the rat race mentality where success is the focus. Our job is to glorify God.

Today’s passage highlights one aspect of following the LORD’s will—knowing what not to do. Here Abram anticipates a problem and acts to preclude it. It’s an advanced example of a simple principle.

While we should always seek God’s will in giving us positive direction, avoiding the negatives is often the larger part following His will. As His ambassadors, we have frequent opportunities to glorify Him or embarrass Him. But the glory we might bring to Him can be dwarfed by the embarrassments.

Never forget that our own sinfulness is dangerous.

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These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. Saturdays' by Matt Richardson. Subscribe here:

The weekly study guides, which include questions for discussion or meditation, are here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NASB stands for the New American Standard Bible. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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