Giving Not Taking

After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.)  And he blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’ And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.  And the king of Sodom said to Abram, ‘Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.’ But Abram said to the king of Sodom, ‘I have lifted my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, “I have made Abram rich.”’” Genesis 14:17-23

During a battle between five kings and four where Lot was captured along with the people of Sodom, Abram took his trained army of 318 in a passioned rescue of his nephew. He returned, Lot, women, children, and possessions in tow, and was met by two kings. One, the mysterious King of Salem and Priest of Most High God, gave him both blessing and refreshment, to which Abram responded with generous offering of one tenth (the first tithe). The King of Sodom, whose pride, people, and very position he had restored, offered him the goods he’d retrieved, and Abram wanted nothing of his “reward.” What strikes me is that after such a magnificent military victory, Abram’s joy and reward was to give, to honor and offer sacrifice of gratitude, not to receive. He deflected all glory, owning that only God, Possessor of heaven and earth, could have delivered them and made them rich.

aspens with green, in sunlight, co

What is my practice, my impulse, when playing a part in any victory or achievement? When I say no to temptation, when I overcome fear for a task or a new relationship, when after many failures I actually hold my tongue and bless instead of curse, when I realize my tendency to complain is softening into a practice of thanking, do I take credit? Is there a hint of smugness that I knew I could solve it, I have arrived, a feeling of superiority over another who is weaker in a certain area? May it never be! Every victory is a gift of grace, every battle won by the Spirit’s hand. All praise goes to Him.

Abraham did what he had to do; he had no thought for himself, no swagger for position or recognition. His hands were lifted to the Possessor of heaven and earth, his life owned by Him; all honor was His.

God Most High, my Priest and King, may I not only recognize but acknowledge that all comes from You, every victory is Yours, won by Your righteous right hand.

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