Genesis 13* Abram returns out of Egypt with great riches. (1-4) Strifebetween the herdsmen of Abram and Lot. Abram gives Lot hischoice of the country. (5-9) Lot chooses to dwell at Sodom.(10-13) God renews his promise to Abram, who removes to Hebron.(14-18)1-4 Abram was very rich: he was very heavy, so the Hebrew wordis; for riches are a burden; and they that will be rich, do butload themselves with thick clay, #Hab 2:6|. There is a burden ofcare in getting riches, fear in keeping them, temptation inusing them, guilt in abusing them, sorrow in losing them, and aburden of account at last to be given up about them. Yet God inhis providence sometimes makes good men rich men, and thus God'sblessing made Abram rich without sorrow, #Pr 10:22|. Though itis hard for a rich man to get to heaven, yet in some cases itmay be, #Mr 10:23,24|. Nay, outward prosperity, if well managed,is an ornament to piety, and an opportunity for doing more good.Abram removed to Beth-el. His altar was gone, so that he couldnot offer sacrifice; but he called on the name of the Lord. Youmay as soon find a living man without breath as one of God'speople without prayer. 5-9 Riches not only afford matter for strife, and are thethings most commonly striven about; but they also stir up aspirit of contention, by making people proud and covetous. Mineand thine are the great make-bates of the world. Poverty andlabour, wants and wanderings, could not separate Abram and Lot;but riches did so. Bad servants often make a great deal ofmischief in families and among neighbours, by their pride andpassion, lying, slandering, and talebearing. What made thequarrel worse was, that the Canaanite and the Perizzite dweltthen in the land. The quarrels of professors are the reproach ofreligion, and give occasion to the enemies of the Lord toblaspheme. It is best to keep the peace, that it be not broken;but the next best is, if differences do happen, with all speedto quench the fire that is broken out. The attempt to stay thisstrife was made by Abram, although he was the elder and thegreater man. Abram shows himself to be a man of cool spirit,that had the command of his passion, and knew how to turn awaywrath by a soft answer. Those that would keep the peace, mustnever render railing for railing. And of a condescending spirit;he was willing to beseech even his inferior to be at peace.Whatever others are for, the people of God must be for peace.Abram's plea for peace was very powerful. Let the people of theland contend about trifles; but let not us fall out, who knowbetter things, and look for a better country. Professors ofreligion should be most careful to avoid contention. Manyprofess to be for peace who will do nothing towards it: not soAbram. When God condescends to beseech us to be reconciled, wemay well beseech one another. Though God had promised Abram togive this land to his seed, yet he offered an equal or bettershare to Lot, who had not an equal right; and he will not, underthe protection of God's promise, act hardly to his kinsman. Itis noble to be willing to yield for peace' sake. 10-13 Abram having offered Lot the choice, he at once acceptedit. Passion and selfishness make men rude. Lot looked to thegoodness of the land; therefore he doubted not that in such afruitful soil he should certainly thrive. But what came of it?Those who, in choosing relations, callings, dwellings, orsettlements, are guided and governed by the lust of the flesh,the lust of the eye, or the pride of life, cannot expect God'spresence or blessing. They are commonly disappointed even inthat which they principally aim at. In all our choices thisprinciple should rule, That is best for us, which is best forour souls. Lot little considered the badness of the inhabitants.The men of Sodom were impudent, daring sinners. This was theiniquity of Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance ofidleness, #Eze 16:49|. God often gives great plenty to greatsinners. It has often been the vexatious lot of good men to liveamong wicked neighbours; and it must be the more grievous, if,as Lot here, they have brought it upon themselves by a wrongchoice. 14-18 Those are best prepared for the visits of Divine grace,whose spirits are calm, and not ruffled with passion. God willabundantly make up in spiritual peace, what we lose forpreserving neighbourly peace. When our relations are separatedfrom us, yet God is not. Observe also the promises with whichGod now comforted and enriched Abram. Of two things he assureshim; a good land, and a numerous issue to enjoy it. Theprospects seen by faith are more rich and beautiful than thosewe see around us. God bade him walk through the land, not tothink of fixing in it, but expect to be always unsettled, andwalking through it to a better Canaan. He built an altar, intoken of his thankfulness to God. When God meets us withgracious promises, he expects that we should attend him withhumble praises. In outward difficulties, it is very profitablefor the true believer to mediate on the glorious inheritancewhich the Lord has for him at the last.
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