How to Let Others Go First
As you read this passage, notice the relationships with God and the consequences of each person’s choice. If you have time, read through all of Genesis chapters 12 and 13.
Genesis 13:3-6, 8-18 (ESV)
3 And he [Abram] journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, 4 to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the LORD. 5 And Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, 6 so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together.
8 Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” 10 And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other. 12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD.
14 The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, 15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. 17 Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” 18 So Abram moved his tent and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD.
Digging into God’s Word
Giving others first choice does not come easily. From childhood through adulthood, our natural inclination is to want the bigger or better for ourselves. Watch children working on an art project. Rarely will they sacrifice the working marker or less full jar of paint so their friends can have the best. When was the last time you were in the grocery store and left the best piece of fruit or the nicest looking cut of meat for another customer?
When we meet a person of sacrifice, we find it surprising and a little out of sync with the rest of society. I have a friend who worked for a company that was downsizing her work group. The company held a meeting with the work group to explain the situation, and before anyone could be quietly let go, my friend volunteered to give up her position so that her younger colleagues with families to raise would not lose their income.
Where does such an attitude of sacrifice come from? We can take some cues from Abram.
Genesis 13 is bookended with Abram reaching out to God and connecting with Him. In verse 4, Abram calls on the name of the LORD–he prays to Him. In verse 18, Abram builds an altar to the LORD–he worships Him. Between those two connections, Abram graciously gives Lot first choice and receives blessing upon blessing from God.
The blessing did not come because Abram made the right choice. It wasn’t Abram’s doing. Instead, the blessing came through relationship with God. God had already promised these good things to Abram, and Abram was just following God’s guidance.
Reflect on these questions. If you have time, journal your answers.
- In what area of your life are you having trouble giving someone else first choice? Are there small choices you can think of? Do any larger issues come to mind as you reflect on this concept? What does this passage say to you about that?
- Read the account again and take notice of what was missing from Lot’s life. What applications are there to your own life?
- Take some time now to connect with God. Pour out your heart to Him in prayer. Listen for His leading. Praise Him for His goodness.
For more about Abram, see the blog article, “Where Will You Meet with God?”
To start the series on Abraham from the beginning, go here.Print