22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’”
Genesis 14 tells an interesting event in the life of Abram. A major battle between several kings of different cities occurred in which Abram’s nephew Lot was taken captive. Abram gathered up his men and went to rescue Lot. In the process, Abram also defeated one group of kings in order to accomplish is task.
After the battle, Abram met Melchizedek, and gave the first tithe that we see in the Bible. This was clearly an important event, as we see it referenced in the book of Hebrews. But what has my attention is what happened immediately after that moment.
The king of the city of Sodom, the city where Lot was living, came to Abram. This king generously offered Abram the right to take whatever share of the plunder that he wanted. Abram had, after all, won the battle. He certainly had the right to enrich himself.
Abram responded to the king of Sodom in a very unique way. He refused to take any of the spoil of the battle from the hand of the king. Why? Abram wanted to protect the name and reputation of God. Abram would not have it said that the king of Sodom, the king of a wicked city, had been the one responsible for enriching God’s chosen people.
I think that we in the church today could use a little of Abram’s concern for the reputation of God. Many churches are willing to compromise anything, absolutely anything, in order to get their numbers up and their offering plates filled. Shorten the sermon. Dumb down the teaching. Use more flashy videos. Use louder music. Build a coffee bar. Get rid of the pulpit. Dress more casual. Avoid talking about sin. Give away a new car. Build a nicer building. Accept evolution. Magnify Christian professional athletes. Teach on non-threatening topics. Go grunge. Exalt the family. Downplay controversial doctrine. Play politics. Use 3d commercials.
Is every one of the above things evil? No, we can’t say that. However, this question might be worth pondering: What do you want people to say “enriched” your church? What do you want people to say drew people in? Does it honor God more to say that we have a great church because of our innovative style or because we preach and trust the word of God? No, these are not mutually exclusive. However, we need to be thoughtful. We need to be careful. We need to be sure that, as we see the church grow, we do so in a way that will fix the praise where it belongs. We need to see to it that our methods and not just the results glorify God.