There was a television game show that used to air on the Game Show Network called “Friend or Foe.” Center stage on the show was what was called the Trust Box. Each contestant would get some time to tell the other why they should be considered a friend. Then, each would put one hand inside the box. Inside the box they each have a button. If one doesn’t press the button, he or she is a friend. If one does, he or she is a foe.
An amount of money is revealed. Here is how the money is awarded:
1- friend and friend- they split the money.
2- friend and foe- the foe takes all the money.
3- foe and foe- the pot is lost.
I’ve only watched the show a couple of times but I’ve never seen anyone win money… ever. Both contestants are usually so afraid of being duped that they each press “Foe” and leave penniless.
Observe the way of the foe and the way of the friend: Lot chooses the way of the foe. In Genesis 13, verse one, we learn that Lot journeyed from Egypt with Abram. I think he got one of his first glances of high society. The small town boy went to the big city, and he liked what he saw. Verse two 2 informs us that Abram, his uncle, was rich with lots of livestock, silver and gold.
Verses 5 and 6 tell us that Lot’s wealth is beginning to grow as well. It isn’t too long before they sense the need to separate. The land could not sustain Abram and Lot dwelling together, because the Canaanites held the best parts, so the servants of these two men had to scrap for water and food in the rest. (v. 7) Pasture was at a premium in the bare limestone hills.
So Abram asks Lot to choose a place to take his wealth. Lot looks around. His eyes are immediately attracted to the valley of the Jordan. It is green. It is lush. The cities of the plain, Sodom and Gommorah, gleam in the sunlight. “I’ll take that way!” Lot exclaims.
Author Ben Patterson writes: “Abram’s nephew… Lot appears to be the man with all the experience and Abram appears to be the man with all the money. At first glance it seems that Lot walks away with all of the money and all Abram walks away with is a very bitter experience.” But that is only what it looks like on the surface. Verse 10 reminds the reader that “…this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.” More on this later.
Contrast Abram who chooses the way of the friend. His faith actually helps to solve strife. Abram gives Lot the free choice of the land. This was not something he needed to do. Abram had the right to make the first choice. But faith does not selfishly seek it’s own desires. Faith doesn’t hoard in fear, but gives with liberality. Abram displays trust in a God he knew would supply his every need.
Now Decisions made in faith are often difficult at first. Feeding his cattle on those barren hills could not have been pleasant for Abram. But he had a promise from God that one day, all the land would be his. After Abram’s courageous compromise with Lot, God confirms his promise to Abram in verses 14-17: “The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, ‘Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give to you and to your descendants forever. I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it you you.”
We see here a contrast between Abram and Lot. Abram was told to lift up his eyes and look. (13:14) Lot looked up himself. (13:10) The Lord said he would give Abram the land. Lot just took it. Joy in living comes when we don’t demand but humbly receive what’s coming to us. Receiving what God gives us with thanksgiving floods our hearts with joy.
So… Regarding Money: do you choose to be a friend or a foe? Generosity marks the path of joy.