Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.”
But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’ …
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” Genesis 14:21-15:1
This passage has a special meaning for me, because at a time when I was grieving over what I could not have (a pregnancy), God spoke to my heart and reminded me of what I did have — Him. The knowledge that God Himself was my reward was both overwhelming and healing. My longing for pregnancy wasn’t a wrong desire; it was quite natural. But God had said no. And He wanted me to know that no loss I experienced on earth could compare to the gain I had in Him.
Abram’s rejection of the world’s rewards freed his hands to receive God’s reward. I think that’s how it always works. If our longing is for the world’s comforts, the world’s luxuries, the world’s diversions, the world’s approval, then there’s little room in our hearts to long after the things of God.
“My kingdom is not of this world,” Jesus told us. If we belong to Him, then our kingdom is not of this world either. And that means that the world’s rewards should hold little appeal to us. Like Abram, we should be able to say, “I’m not interested in what you have to offer.”
I love that Abram refused the king’s offer before he heard God’s promise. Even if no reward ever came from God (which would be uncharacteristic of Him), Abram would still rather not taint his name with an attachment to Sodom’s wealth. To him, empty hands were preferable to that. He was determined not to align himself with the world, but to keep himself separate and trust God for whatever good would come to him.
Oh, that we may share his determination.