Spiritual Success or Distress?
Quarter 4, Lesson 10

Lesson Ten

The "Abraham Principle"
of Stewardship

Text: Genesis 12:1-9

From the Christian perspective, there are two basic views of "material things." "Material things" include anything physical a person can own: money, properties, valuables, etc. View one: what I own exists for my benefit first and foremost. What I possess certainly can benefit others, but only after it benefits me. When my possessions do benefit others, even their benefit should benefit me. View two: what I possess exists to create opportunity for me to be a blessing as I serve God's purposes. A primary way for what I own to bless God's purposes is for me to use my possessions to bless others.

Two distinctly different perspectives separate those two views. In the first view, self is to be the highest consideration of physical existence. The "real" is the physical. I am physical, and I must use the "real" to serve my own best interests. It is a matter of wisdom to help others, for by helping others I improve physical circumstances and realties for me. Since I live in the world, it is only reasonable to make the world a better place to live in. To do so is to my benefit.

In the second view a person sees existence from an eternal perspective. Physical life is only a segment of existence, and a minor segment at that. It is real, but it is no more real than the eternal. In this view, a person refuses to consider self as existence's highest consideration. He or she sees God as existence's focal point. Jesus teaches him or her the purpose of physical existence. Jesus correctly understood the focal point of existence is God and His purposes. Serving God's purposes results in continually experiencing life. Death itself cannot interrupt the continuity of life. For those who serve God's purposes, resurrection assures the continuation of life. Jesus knew the purpose of physical existence was not centered in his physical well being or physical pleasures. Jesus trusted God to resurrect him and continue life.

The way a person perceives and defines blessings is determined by his or her perspective on existence. The way a person uses blessings is determined by his or her perspective on existence. If a person considers physical existence the highest form of reality and self as the focal point of existence, he or she uses life for his or her primary benefit. If a person considers the eternal the highest form of reality with God as the focal point of existence, he or she uses life for God's primary benefit. A God-focused person is a people-focused person. Serving God involves using life to bless people.

Read Genesis 12:1-9.

Quite early, scripture introduces the reader to a basic view of existence: God blesses us to be a blessing to others. This truth is stressed in God's promises to Abraham. God gave Abraham some incredible promises and blessings. Abraham was to understand that he received his blessings to assist God's purposes. He also was to understand that God blessed him with the intent that he be a blessing to others.

  1. Abraham was to leave what three things (verse 1)?

  2. Where was Abraham to go (verse 1)?

  3. What three promises did God make Abraham (verse 2)?




  4. What responsibility was Abraham to accept (verse 2)?

  5. How would God treat those who blessed Abraham (verse 3)?

  6. How would God treat those who reviled or cursed Abraham (verse 3)?

  7. What would God do through Abraham (verse 3)?

  8. How did Abraham respond to God (verse 4)? How old was he?

  9. Where did Abraham go (verse 5)? Whom and what did he take with him?

  10. What did the Lord God say when He appeared to Abraham in Canaan (verse 7)? How did Abraham respond?

Abraham understood that he received blessings to bless others. In all probability, Lot's wealth came from Abraham's blessings. When each of them possessed so much livestock that they could not continue to live together, they separated. Read Genesis 13:1-12 to see how Abraham used the principle of "being a blessing" in this situation. Lot was trapped between warring factions and became a prisoner of war. Read Genesis 14:1-16 to see how Abraham used the principle of "being a blessing" in this situation. Abraham gave Melchizedek, God's priest, one tenth of all he captured when he rescued Lot. Read Genesis 14:17-24 to see how Abraham used the principle of "being a blessing" in this situation. Abraham received and physically cared for some strangers who happened to be God's messengers. Read Genesis 18 to see how Abraham used the principle of "being a blessing" in regard to the strangers and in regard to his concern for Lot.

Abraham understood and accepted as fact something we struggle to understand and accept. He understood that God blessed him so that he could serve God's purposes. That included being a blessing to others. Christians struggle to understand that God blesses us physically and spiritually to enable us to serve His purposes.

We are prone to think God blesses us for us. Those who live by faith, like Abraham, understand they are blessed to be a blessing. While we surely benefit from each of God's blessings [both the physical and the spiritual], we are never to consider those blessings our own. God entrusts them to us to use them for His purposes.

The way we use our physical and spiritual blessings to bless others is a powerful evidence. Of what? It powerfully evidences the nature of our faith. Do we trust ourselves or our God? Is life about us or about God? Just how important do we regard God's objectives and purposes in our lives? Is it true that we are God's stewards of life, but life belongs to God? Is all of life given to us to use for God's purposes? Read James 4:1-4 and think about the root problem in these Christians. Did they understand why they were blessed? Do we?

Link to Teacher's Guide Quarter 4, Lesson 10

Copyright © 2000
David Chadwell & West-Ark Church of Christ

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