For the last couple weeks we have been going through this series of finding favor with God by pleasing him. We considered through instances we saw in Abrahams life how we could bring God pleasure by loving him supremely, trusting him completely, obeying him wholeheartedly, and praising/thanking him continually (Finding Favor Part 1, Finding Favor Part 2). Today we are going to go through the final way that we see Abraham bringing glory to God and that is pleasing Him by the use of our abilities!
- God smiles when we use our abilities
The first thing that we think of when we consider Abraham is usually his faith and not really his abilities. But what we can overlook is that because he was a faithful person he had so many spiritual gifts that we possess as believers today. We see multiple accounts through Abrahams life where he displays kindness, care, humbleness, and hospitality. We see an example of the care he shows when he saves his cousin Lot.
14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. 16 He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people.
Sure we are quick to lend a helping hand to our family and cousins but nothing like what Abraham did for Lot. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his own life so that he could save his cousin! This is not even his own blood but a further relation of his and he still did not hesitate saving him.
An instance where Abraham displays humbleness is seen with Lot as well when they are choosing where to settle in the land.
8 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. 9 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.” 10 Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere—this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah—like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar. 11 So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other. 12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom.
Though Abraham was the older cousin and he had the right to choose which land he could settle in, he gave up his first pick and gave the choice to Lot. That is showing true humbleness, placing the needs and desires of someone else before your own. Abraham could have chosen the more lush , well watered, greener land for his cattle to graze but he choose his relationship with lot over his own desires. His humbleness did not go overlooked either. We know from later on in scripture that he made the wiser choice. The land that Lot settled in, though it was lush, was completely destroyed because of the sinful people in that lived there. We may think characteristics such as kindness, care, and humbleness are for chumps but in the eyes of God, those do NOT go overlooked. God WILL bless the righteous individual based on the intent of their hearts.
Another example where we see Abraham showing care and consideration for others is when he intercedes before God for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
22 Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the Lord.23 Abraham came near and said, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”
So these verses are just the first account of a long conversation between Abraham and God between what number of people it would take in order for God to spare the land. We know God is a just and holy God and he cannot stand the sight of unrepentant sin. Even though Sodom and Gomorrah fell in this category due to the perverse sins they were involved with, we see that Abraham was still able to negotiate with God. God knew ultimately in the end that he would destroy those cities but still spare Lot and his daughters. What stands out the most is Abraham’s genuine care and concern to the point where he is able to stand in the presence of and almighty and all-powerful God and actually negotiate with him! Abraham did not have to step up and intercede on behalf of Lot but he chose to out of his care and well-being of his cousin. That’s an example for all of us to learn by. Even when we see another brother, sister, or friend struggling with some issue or the other to the point that it is a seemingly hopeless situation, taking it up to the throne of grace and interceding before God on their behalf. Though it may be mentally and emotionally draining for us god does not overlook the care and compassion that we extend to those around us!
There is one last instance where Abraham shows hospitality to three random strangers even though he didn’t have to.
2 When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth, 3 and said, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by. 4 Please let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree; 5 and I will bring a piece of bread, that you may refresh yourselves; after that you may go on, since you have visited your servant.” And they said, “So do, as you have said.”
We live in a world where we come first. We hardly have time for anything or anyone. When we make time for people, that priority is set based on how close that person is to us and ultimately how they are associated with us or benefit us in the end. Not for Abraham. He saw three random strangers wandering in the desert and without skipping a beat asks them over for dinner and entertains them with his company. When is the last time that we have reached out to a stranger and given them a word of encouragement, companionship, or even a smile? Even in the slightest ways we can show hospitality to others though it may seem simple and insignificant. God never loses count or overlooks our actions that reflect him. When we show hospitality to others, we are ultimately bringing glory and pleasure to God!
We can learn so much from the life of Abraham on how to please God because of the example he set. We saw instances throughout his life of how he brings pleasure to God through loving him supremely, trusting him completely, obeying him whole heartedly, praising/thanking him continually, and using our abilities. Lets strive to take these examples from Abraham’s life and make them our own by pleasing God through these avenues AND in everything we do!