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Faith Versus Sight

“This town ain’t big enough for the both of us,” a line made popular by early Western films, is now a stock phrase used to convey the idea that two people cannot share the same space. It could also describe Abram and Lot in today’s reading.

After returning from Egypt, Abram and Lot had grown so rich in livestock that the land could no longer support them both. As they went their separate ways, Scripture portrays a clear contrast between them. Despite God’s blessings, Lot demonstrated no relationship with the Lord. He chose what appeared to be the best of the land—the well- watered and fertile plain of the Jordan. But there was a problem. The area was inhabited by wicked people who “were sinning greatly against the LORD” (v. 13). This apparently presented no hesitation for Lot who quickly “pitched his tents near Sodom” (v. 12).

Abram’s action, on the other hand, demonstrated his faith. Blessed also by God with abundance, Abram returned to one of his original altars near Bethel and “called on the name of the LORD” (v. 4). Although promised the whole land of Canaan, Abram was not anxious to grasp it all for himself; rather he allowed Lot first choice, in order to avoid strife.

In response, God spoke to Abram again, reaffirming His promises, this time with more details. The promise of land is reiterated, described as all that Abram can see in every direction. God even encouraged Abram to walk throughout the land itself. Second, the promise of descendants was reaffirmed, so numerous that they could be likened to the “dust of the earth” (v. 16). Abram’s response to God’s word was yet another act of worship. Lot chose and lived by sight; Abram by faith.

Apply the Word

What might God be calling you to do in faith this week? Give more generously, even when finances seem tight? Speak Christ’s love to a neighbor even when they seem uninterested? Confess a previous sin even when it seems scary to do so? Ask God for the eyes of faith today, then act in response, trusting God’s promises to provide for all your needs.

BY Bryan Stewart

Bryan A. Stewart is associate professor of religion at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. His particular interests are the history of Christian thought and the way that early Christians interpreted the biblical canon. He is the editor of a volume on the Gospel of John in The Church’s Bible series (Eerdmans), and he has done extensive research on the ways that the early Church preached on this Gospel. He is an ordained minister. 

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