In Genesis 12:1 the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Whenever I read this passage I always wonder about the author. Do you sometimes read scripture and wonder what was going on when the person actually wrote what was written?
First it says, “Obey me.” Then it says if you do, “I will bless you.” What is the point of obedience? Is it to get a blessing? The next part of this passage begins with the word ‘so.’ The end result of obedience is not the blessing. It is ‘so’ that we can be a blessing to others.
It seems that every year many pastors take the first of the year resolution craze to go to Malachi and start preaching on tithing. I understand the need for finances, but motivation through guilt or ‘to get’ is contrary to the spirit of scripture. How often have you heard it said, “The more you give the more you’ll get?”
Doesn’t that stick in your stomach? Most of us do ‘want,’ but giving to ‘get’? Instinctively most of us know this is the wrong motivation to give. We know this is wrong because God’s Spirit is within all of us. Yes, even in the most desperate and rebellious of us. Otherwise, how could any of us ever do anything good?
I still remember the pastor who talked about giving from Deuteronomy 26, instead of Malachi. He said the point of giving was to be grateful for what God has already given us; we give to celebrate what God has already done. That was why it was done in the Temple, in other words, in community. The end result is that others will be blessed. We give to say thank you and our gratefulness is used to bless others.
Genesis 12 tells the reader that God would bless Abraham so that Abraham, eventually Israel, eventually the Jewish people, and eventually those people who have been grafted in because of Jesus, and so that those people who have the Spirit of God moving within them … can be a blessing to others. Get is not the end. Give is the end.
Whenever I read about Portlanders reaching out to help others I know the Spirit of God is moving within them. Otherwise I have to assume that good exists apart from God. For me, that dog don’t hunt. I believe there is a little of God in all of us. As long as the Spirit of God is moving with us, no one is beyond redemption.