Abram Rescues Undeserving Lot in Self-Sacrificial Love
A couple weeks ago I preached on Genesis 14 in two parts. In the first part I focused on verses 1-16 and the fact that Abram rescues his nephew Lot from the four eastern kings when he very easily could have had the attitude that he sort of deserved to be taken captive for his foolish and selfish decision to dwell near Sodom, a place that was notoriously wicked (cf. Gen 13:10-13). At this point in Genesis 14 he is now dwelling in Sodom when he and his family and all his possessions are taken captive by the foreign kings (Gen 14:12). But Abram walks by faith and love. He trusts God’s promises to bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you (Gen 12:1-3). He trusts that God will give him a people and the promised land in due time as he waits patiently for God’s good timing. And so, being fueled by God’s promises, he pursues Lot’s captors in order to rescue his “kinsman” (lit. his brother) in love (Gen 14:14, 16). In other words his love arises out of faith in God’s promises. Furthermore, his love is a love that is risky, inconvenient, costly, and towards one who is undeserving. And God ultimately wins the battle for him as he rescues his nephew/kinsmen with only 318 men against four kings and their military (Gen 14:14-16, 20). Abram is Lot’s kinsman redeemer. Christian, does any of this sound familiar?
Christ Rescued Us Who Were Undeserving in Self-Sacrificial Love
Abram is a type of Christ here. Jesus is not ashamed to call us his brothers and sisters (Heb 2:11). As Abram was to Lot, so Christ is to us. In the words of Iain Duguid, “Jesus did not sit idly in Heaven waiting for us to deserve to be redeemer. If he had, eternity would have gone by without our redemption. Nor was our redemption risk free and painless. Christ was willing to leave the glories of heaven and come down to us, taking the form of a servant in our midst” (Duguid, Living in the Gap Between Promise and Reality: The Gospel According to Abraham, 45).
Thanks be to God,that Christ left the glories of heaven to come after us! And as our servant-King he came and conquered all the powers that we were in bondage to. He conquered all the temptations of the devil by trusting God’s Word. He conquered all the desires of the flesh by never once sinning. He conquered all the temptations of the world by obeying his heavenly Father perfectly. All of those things which formerly enslaved us Jesus conquered on our behalf through his life, death and resurrection.
Once again Duguid writes, “Jesus was willing not only to take risks for the sake of his undeserving kinsmen, but also to suffer great agony for them on the cross. But there on the cross, as in the person of Melchizedek, righteousness and peace met. There we find not only the proof that Jesus loves us, but also the pain-filled means by which he powerfully delivered the undeserving people he had chosen for himself, even in the face of their estrangement and ingratitude toward him” (Duguid, 46).
How great is the love that God has shown us in Christ! In the words of Paul the Apostle, but God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8). And because of his perfect life, his sacrificial death and his glorious resurrection, those of us who look to him by faith alone have been freed from our bondage to sin and death and the devil. We are free in Him! We have been forgiven of all of our sins entirely. We have been given his righteousness through faith. We have been given his Holy Spirit as a gift so that we are enabled more and more to put to death our sins and live for God! And we have been given the hope of one day being delivered completely from all of our sins and sufferings in this life when he returns.
In Gratitude, We Are To Love Those Who Are Undeserving in Self-Sacrificial Love
How then shall we live in thankfulness to God for the salvation that we don’t deserve? Jesus commands us to love one another as he has loved us (John 13:34-35; 15:12-13). And what does that look like? Well we typically ask ourselves two questions when determining if we are going to help someone? 1. Does this person deserve my help? 2. Can I help this person without any risk or inconvenience to myself? (Duguid, 44) But how can we who have been saved eternally when we were so undeserving treat others this way? And how can we who were saved through the precious blood of the only Son of God only help others when it won’t bring any risk or inconvenience to us?
Who has God placed in your life right now who is difficult to love and is undeserving of your love? Is it a spouse, a son or a daughter, a parent, a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker? No doubt it can be a great struggle to love certain people. But where we find strength is the same place that Abram found strength, relying on the Spirit’s strength given to us through the gracious promises of God in Christ. And so, we need to meditate every day on the fact that we don’t deserve God’s love and yet he has poured out his love upon us in Christ and nothing will ever separate us from his love towards us in Christ (Rom 8:31-39). These gracious promises must be the foundation of our life as Christians. And we especially need to hear them proclaimed every week in public worship on the Lord’s Day so that it fuels a courageous self-sacrificial love in us toward others.
No doubt there are times when we have to exercise great wisdom in order to know when to administer “tough love” or when to withhold certain things from someone so that we don’t enable that person to remain enslaved to sinful habits. But we must never forget that we are to love others as Christ has loved us. And so, may we love those who are undeserving. May we be inconvenienced for the sake of sharing the love of Christ with others. And may we always point them beyond ourselves to the one who first loved us. Amen!
(If you’d like, you can listen to my sermon “Loving Those Who Are Undeserving” or other sermons here at our church web-site)