So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.”
This time is the 13th session of goodness. Its title is “The Goodness of Abraham.”
Abraham is one of fathers of faith whose name has many modifiers.
The father of faith is Abraham. The fountain of blessing is Abraham.
James 2:23 says that he was called the friend of God.
None of these three nicknames “Father of faith” “Fountain of Blessing” and “Friend of God” could be given easily.
Not anybody can be nicknamed that way. Only a person who is recognized by God can be entitled that way.
How could Abraham be recognized as such by God?
Until now many times I have explained about Abraham as one of illustrations for my messages, but now I preach about him in light of his goodness.
It was because of his outstanding goodness that he could become a friend of God, blessing of God, and father of faith.
I hope you long for the goodness of Abraham and its descending upon your heart abundantly while I preach this message about him.
I pray in the name of the Lord you will be closer to God the Father and become a better vessel that can enjoy all blessing God has prepared.
Dear brothers and sisters,
The first goodness of Abraham God recognized of him was that he was gentle and willing to yield.
To the extent that you become changed by the truth, you have more measure of the peaceful and considerate heart, and gentleness and willingness to yield come from such peaceful heart.
With more detailed explanation, “gentleness” is the heart in which you can give everything you have because your heart is filled with the truth and you are set free by the truth.
Willingness to yield comes from the good and beautiful heart and it makes you choose either of two choices – choose what is more pleasing to God.
He who is willing to yield sends out good words from his mouth and shows good and beautiful deeds. Abraham had the perfection of gentleness and willingness to yield.
What kinds of his deeds show us his perfect gentleness and willingness to yield?
A representative illustration of his gentle and willingness to yield is shown in Genesis 13. Abraham gave his nephew Lot the priority to choose a better land.
Lot had stayed with Abraham since Abraham left his own country according to the will of God.
So, when God gave Abraham blessing, Lot enjoyed blessing together because he was with Abraham.
But when their possessions increased, they could no longer live together.
Water and pasture were too short for both of them to raise a number of animals.
That’s why their shepherds quarreled from time to time.
Abraham wanted to be at peace with his nephew in everything, so he gave his nephew a suggestion in Genesis 13:8-9.
Genesis 13:8-9 say, “So Abram said to Lot, ‘Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left.'”
Abraham gave up the priority that he could have taken and gave it to his nephew.
His nephew Lot did not refuse to receive it at all but chose a fertile land full of water.
What would you do if you are in his shoes now? Will you take the high time and choose the better the way Lot did? Or will you give the priority to your uncle?
Even if Lot had returned the priority to Abraham, Abraham would have let his nephew Lot take it again.
However, no matter how many times Abraham tried to give the priority to Lot, if he had known the duty of men and realized the grace from Abraham, he could not have done it.
He should have returned the priority and let Abraham take it to the point of choosing the infertile land.
When Abraham continually advised him to take the better land after he refused, if he had chosen it thinking he had fully acted the duty of men, it proves he had not known the grace from Abraham and not performed his whole duty either.
It may look better than choosing the better land at a time. But if he had realized and felt thankful for the grace of Abraham, he could not choose it even if he had to choose it in priority.
In the Bible, Lot never refused to take the priority at all but chose it and left for the land. It tells us what kind of heart vessel he had.
But how about the heart of Abraham?
When Lot chose the better-looking land and left, Abraham did not feel sorry and had no ill feelings. He never felt offended at all because his heart was willing to yield and peaceable.
His heart was so gentle as to give the priority time and again, and so wiling to yield that he could choose either of two but he was ready to choose what is more acceptable to God.
He would like to give the right he could enjoy to a little child because he served his party from his heart. And even if the child asked for some more, he would give him readily.
How gentle are you in comparison wit Abraham?
If you have ten and someone asks you for them, how many can you give him?
Some of you may give him just two, some others up to five and still others nine with a broad mind.
But Abraham would like to give ten if somebody asked for all of ten.
The gentleness of Abraham in which he could give everything he had, it is spiritual goodness God accepts.
Dear brothers and sisters,
The second goodness of Abraham was that he was unselfish, upright and faithful.
His heart was not only beautiful and good but also so broad as to embrace many things.
God allowed him various trials so that his beautiful and big vessel would change into a perfect vessel of gold.
Of course, his trials were different from those of other prophets.
Moses had to let his self die thoroughly through trials and he shed many tears.
When his own being and old self was completely put to death, his faith in God was made perfect and he could see everything with new viewpoints of faith. And he confessed his real thankfulness coming from the bottom of his heart along with tears of thanks.
Differently, Abraham did not receive trials of sorrow and tears but received blessing through trials because he followed the upright way in the hope and faith.
Abraham also had something to worry about and lament, but it was lighter than that of Moses.
Abraham and Moses received different trials because their situation and God-given duty were different. And because they had different heart field, the way of God’s cultivating them was different.
Abraham had a good and big heart, and longed to walk in the honest and faithful way.
He was not rough in anything and treated nothing in a passive manner. He was never indiscrete or inexact.
He never failed to do anything perfectly before God because he was exact and thorough in anything.
It does not mean he relied on his ability and did something proudly.
Abraham was so humble that he considered himself as nothing in the sight of God. And he fully believed he could do all things in the name of God.
That’s why hew was never at a loss when he met with hardships. In addition, because he walked in the upright and truthful manner, his life was filled with blessing.
This point was deemed to be good the sight of God.
Some say they act with faith but they are neither honest nor truthful because of their selfish desires.
But a really good-hearted person follows an upright and faithful way because he believes God will bless him.
Abraham was the very person and the promise God had given him through Genesis 12:2 saying that, “And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing” was fulfilled as it was.
Let me give you a few illustrations of Abraham’s upright and faithful life.
In Genesis 14, when his nephew Lot and his household were involved in a war and taken away as captives, Abram came forward to the war and rescued them from the opposite army.
When he heard of Lot’s predicament, he did not pretend to stand unnoticed but ran to the war at the cost of his life and delivered Lot and his family.
Because of this deed of Abram, King of Sodom who Lot belonged to won the war. The king of Sodom wanted to give thanks to Abram and told him to take loot.
But Abram said to the king of Sodom in Genesis 14:22-23, “I have sworn to the LORD God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, 23that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say, ‘I have made Abram rich.'”
Abram played the most important part in wining the war and gave the big grace to the king of Sodom. So even if he had tried to take those loots, it would not been deemed to seek for his own greed improperly.
If he had had a little selfish desire for loots, he would have rationalized every situation in Accordance with his desire.
He may have said that it would be proper for him to take loots because they were the wages for his crucial aid in winning the war. And he would have added that they could win the war because God was with them and so the loots were the blessing that God had allowed him and he was deserved to receive.
However, Abram never tried to take any selfish desires or benefits.
That’s because he had no greed for possessions and had no desire for selfish benefits at all.
He wanted to receive any blessing only from God.
He did not want to store financial blessings following his own benefits in human ways, but just wished he would be rich in the blessing God gives us when our souls are getting along well.
This was deemed to be upright and truthful in the sight of God and God considered him as good.
Just as the first part of Proverbs 11:3 says, “The integrity of the upright will guide them,” Abram was continually guided to the path of blessing God had prepared.
If you want to receive blessing from God, you have to accomplish the goodness of Abraham in your heart.
You must walk uprightly in God’s eyes without any selfish desire.
But many follow their own desires and seek for benefits that are seen to their eyes, so they do not receive blessing from God.
Proverbs 20″10 says, “He who leads the upright along an evil path will fall into his own trap, but the blameless will receive a good inheritance.”
Accordingly, even if nobody leads you into an evil path, you are tempted, deceived and fall into traps as much as you have greed in your mind.
Therefore, I wish all of you keep in mind this verse saying “the blameless will receive a good inheritance” and receive blessing in all your ways.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Abraham was so upright and faithful in the sight of God that he never tried to take anything that he could have taken and not been blamed for but paid the proper price for something that he could receive for nothing.
This fact happened when he bought a burial site for his dead wife Sarah.
In Genesis 23, when the Hittites told Abraham they would give him a tomb of burying his wife for nothing, he did not accept it on the spot but paid he proper price for the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre in the land of Canaan.
It proves that he had not selfish desire but was so honest and upright as not to receive what is not proper.
The fact that Abraham bought the burial site and made it his possession was made possible because he had wisdom of goodness. The mind of fleshly people change some time, so although they said they would give something for nothing at first, later they would change in their mind and request for the returning of the land.
If Abraham had not done so, something burdensome might have happened to him later. He estimated what would happen in the future and removed the origin of problems so that no problem would happen.
As said in Genesis 23:18, the land became Abraham’s permanent possession by the agreement made in the presence of the Hittite elders at the city gate. Thus Abraham made the purchase of the filed and the cave in it public in the presence of many people so that nothing wrong might happen.
He was very wise. With this good wisdom, he did not receive the loots the king of Sodom had told to take.
If he had received them, when Abraham became richer, the king might have said Abraham had been richer because he had given all the loots to Abraham.
Abraham said, “I will not take so much as a single thread or sandal thong from you” and flatly rejected his suggestion. He did it in such a wise manner that he left nothing to disgrace God.
Abraham gained this wisdom of goodness because he followed the uprightness and faithfulness from his heart.
Another illustration is said in Genesis 21. At the time of Abraham water was very valuable. One day servants of Abimelech seized the well that belonged to Abraham. Actually Abraham suffered some loss.
But when he met Abimelech for this matter, he did not ask for the compensation but made the right of possessing the well clear by giving seven little lambs.
When Abimelech was wring, Abraham first followed the peaceful way, and at the same time made everything clear so that quarrel would never happen because of the well.
If Abraham had only rebuked Abumelech for his wrongdoing, Abimelech would have been forced to drawn back rather than to repent and turn from his way. Then, true peace would not have happened to them.
If Abimelech would meet with another difficulty of water, he would seize the well violently again.
Abimelech should have compensated Abraham for the loss, but he received the price for the well from Abraham. That’s why he surrendered himself to Abraham from his heart and had never taken it from then on.
This tells us how wise Abraham was.
Thus Abraham was led to the path of blessing that God prepared. He did everything in a perfect and exact manner because he had wisdom of goodness.
Likewise, if you do anything with wisdom in good heart, you will have nothing to quarrels about and have peace with anybody. And you will be able to finish your work perfectly so that nothing wrong would happen. But how many people do differently?
They do not treat that kind of matter with goodness but try to discern whose fault it is. If ill feelings increase within you and the party with the passing of time, the matter goes worse.
But if you receive wisdom of goodness, you will not be interfered in enlarging the kingdom and righteousness of God, but accomplish the providence of God more greatly.
If you treat the party who has done wrong to you with goodness, you may be able to change him your helper.
I hope you remember this wisdom of goodness comes upon you when you become willing to yield anything to others and walk in the upright way without any selfish desire.
I have explained two aspects of Abraham’s goodness.
The first goodness of Abraham God accepts is his heart that is gentle and willing to yield. And his second goodness is that he was honest and upright without any selfishness.
Good-looking people of the world may be weak and credulous, so they meet with various difficulties. But those whose goodness is recognized by God do not meet them.
Because they receive the wisdom of goodness like Abraham, they can solve any problem in peace and prevent any would-be troubles.
James 3:17-18 say, But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
I pray in the name of the Lord you long for the goodness more eagerly and reach the level of goodness of Abraham so that your life can be filled with the grace and blessing of God.