So Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb.
2 Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. 3 And he 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, 7 and there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were dwelling in the land.
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.” – Genesis 13:1-9
We were on our way to Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1977. Diane was 7 months pregnant. We had all of our worldly possessions in a U-Haul trailer, and were driving our 1972 Chevrolet Belair with a two-speed automatic transmission – not so affectionately known as a Power Slide transmission. Slide being the operative term. And did it slide. More and more. I felt the transmission slip as we sped along I-80, and as it slipped the knot in my stomach grew tighter and tighter. I had a wife and unborn baby to care for. We were in the middle of Iowa corn fields. It was not my happy place.
A kind passerby stopped and took us to the nearby town. We spent the night in an old hotel and ended up buying a new car(!) the next day. Several things had to come together for that to happen. We needed money to do so. That involved a call to the bank. We needed someone to co-sign our loan. That meant a call to my dad. We needed a willing seller. The local car dealer provided the car. We needed some knowledge of whether to repair or replace our car. The dealer’s expertise and my knowledge of cars sourced that for us. Diane’s physical health was important for us and our unborn son. Sleep and nourishment provided that. And we needed peace of heart throughout the process. We turned to God in prayer for that. All five capitals came into play during this experience: financial, relational, physical, intellectual, and spiritual.
All of these resources allow us to live, move, and breathe throughout our days. All of them are important. Many times we get them upside down, placing financial capital at the top of our list of important resources. Financial capital, however, is the least important. Spiritual resources are most important. Abram realizes this, and his life is defined by his relationship with God and his willingness to follow where God leads him.
In this case, we can easily see three capitals at play. He has much wealth and many possessions: That’s financial capital. He also has a relationship with Lot, his nephew, and his and Lot’s herdsmen have (broken) relationships with each other. And right in the middle of all this Abram calls on the name of the Lord. He grounds himself in his spiritual resources: God’s blessings, worship, and prayer – all by faith. There is surely some degree of intelligence and physical wellbeing that are at play here. But they are more unmentioned – even though surely factors.
The question for us today is whether we value the spiritual and relational resources God has entrusted to us. Do we see them and use them to honor and serve him? Do we apply our intellect to further God’s kingdom among us? Do we take good care of our bodies so that we can serve God well? Are our financial resources well-invested toward kingdom purposes?
All of these are gifts from God. All of them are for our good, our neighbor’s blessing and properly used for God’s honor. Abram was a man of great wealth. But he was rich in spiritual and relational, intellectual and physical resources too. All will be brought to bear as Abram, Lot, Sarai, and others invest themselves in God’s grand story of redemption and blessing.
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