We are constantly being bombarded with stimuli. We should watch this, listen to that, read this, click that. People (both digitally and in-person) are constantly vying for our attention. And I completely believe that who we focus on and what we believe shapes how we react to the world around us.
The other day, I was reading through Genesis and stumbled upon a story that has always intrigued me. In it, we read about Abram, a man of God who hears that one of his relatives has been captured by an evil king. He, understandably, wasn’t going to let this injustice slide, and sprung into action. He gathered his men together and went on the attack and defeated this king, taking back his kidnapped relative and everything else that had been taken from him and his family. It was like a scene out of a great action movie! Here’s what happens next:
“After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
And praise be to God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand.”
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.”
But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me—to Aner, Eshkol and Mamre. Let them have their share.”” Genesis 14:17-24 (NIV)
When I have read this passage previously, I’ve gotten so caught up in who Melchizedek is that I have forgotten to focus on the meat of these verses. The mystery of the king of Salem has distracted me from focusing on the amazing truth we can glean from his words.
After Melchizedek blesses Abram, he has no choice but to respond. Abram, without questioning his decision or making a pro and con list, gave the king a tenth of everything he had. When God is in our midst, we can’t help but respond. What an incredible example of worship and a precious heart posture of love and reverence!
It was a perfect and holy moment. Then, without missing a beat, Abram’s heart posture of sacrifice, honor, and worship is challenged. The king of Sodom wants to make a trade with Abram, offering him a deal that would make Abram rich, but would be cruel to the people. This God-fearing man was being given the choice of profits over people.
I think it’s no coincidence that Melchizedek’s blessing came right before this immense temptation. Because Abram was reminded of his identity and the immense goodness of God, he was able to say “no” to a proposition that might have seemed enticing. He didn’t need this King’s money, he didn’t need to be rich in man’s eyes, because he knew that he was blessed and highly favored of the Lord—he wanted for nothing else.
I wonder how many times this happens to us in our lives: we hear a word from God and immediately we’re given the opportunity to walk it out. I think that now, more than ever, we are being told who we are, who God is, and what we’re called to do by those who aren’t God. We’re confronted with peer pressure to act a certain way and a world screaming loudly at us that we are _____________ (fill in the blank for yourself).
But I believe that we can be like Abram and resist temptation when it arises. We can choose to believe the truth of God’s word instead of getting distracted by the shiny objects of the world. We can live from a place of wholeness knowing that we are God’s blessed and beloved children. And we can choose to trust in God’s character when hopelessness abounds.
Let’s spend some time today being intentional about seeking God’s face, receiving his promise, and worshiping as we are led.
How can you intentionally choose God’s word today?
Have you ever had a word from God immediately tested?