Click here for an audio version of this blog post.
Then the men set out from there, and they looked down toward Sodom. And Abraham went with them to set them on their way. 17 The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” 20 Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”
22 So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. – Genesis 17:16-22
I don’t like to think of myself as a gossip. But I really do lean in when I hear of someone I know in an interesting situation. Interesting as in troubled, challenging, exciting, or newly-relieved. A family dynamic that is worthy of Jerry Springer. A challenge worthy of three episodes of the Intervention TV program. A financial crisis that would make the top ten list of Dave Ramsey’s dire situations. Or maybe even hints at these.
Quite honestly, I don’t seek these out. And I really don’t hear that many. Sometimes, moreover, it is important to know what you’re walking into when you try to help out a church. If the chairman of the congregation wants to do things by the book and there are some folks who want to do an end run, it will be helpful for me to know if I’m going to visit that congregation. If a pastor is really struggling with his health, it will be good to take that into consideration as I talk with him about the challenges his church is facing. It’s not just my desire to be in the know. It’s so that I may be more helpful.
Abraham will have some inside information about God’s plans because he will become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him. With blessing comes responsibility. With great blessing becomes great responsibility. So Abraham, who has been blessed, will have a responsibility toward the news God is about to reveal to him. I’m not certain Abraham undertook his conversation with God because he felt responsible for the wellbeing of all people, but it would certainly add up.
Abraham will be the one through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed. That leverages this encounter with God in a very powerful way. There is a distant connection between the word for blessing and the idea of a weight. I love the image of laying hands on someone to give a blessing as being a time when the hands are laid heavily on the one being blessed. The weight in this case is knowing what God is going to do in Sodom. This is nothing to be taken lightly.
We have been told by God of his intent for the future of the whole world. We’ve learned of this through his word. This is no trivial factoid. There is a weight that goes with this knowledge. As we think on that, it might even shape our desire to know of our neighbor’s latest bit of gossip. Knowing of our neighbor’s need brings the weight of acting in love toward that neighbor. Helping him. Praying for her. Listening to their stories. Walking with her through the dark valleys. Rejoicing with him on the mountaintops.
Has God revealed something to you that you can leverage for his kingdom’s purposes? Maybe this is a good time to pray about that.