The Character of Everyday Choices

Dr. Mark Bailey, Chancellor – Dallas Theological Seminary

Alexander Whyte writes in his book Bible Characters about the choices made by Abram and Lot, recorded in Genesis 13 and 14, “What a man chooses, and how a man chooses, when opportunities and alternatives and choices are put before him – nothing more surely discovers a man than that.   

In Genesis 13 we have a great example of the choices of the flesh and the choices of faith. Lot has eyes that are drawn to the externals of what can be seen, while Abram is asked to have eyes of faith, to see what is not yet visible. Both lifted their eyes, but each saw something different 

The occasion that prompted their choices was the conflict between the herdsmen of Lot and those of Abram. To use an American Old West expression, each thought “this town is not big enough for the both of us.” So, Abram graciously gave Lot the opportunity to choose a portion of the land on which he would settle, and Abram promised to go in the opposite direction.  

What can we learn from these respective choices?

First, let’s look at the choices of the flesh made by Lot.  

Lot looked around” and chose the Jordan Valley, which at the time was very fertile and well-watered. Ironically, it brought back the visual memories of Egypt and Eden. Lot settled in the cities of the valley and located himself and his family near the wicked city of Sodom. All of these were self-serving choices based on selfsatisfaction, sight and security.   

On the other hand, we see the choices of Abram. In reality, these are actually God’s choices. In Genesis 13:14-15, God tells Abram, “Look around from where you are,” and look in all four directions. “All the land you that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.”

In this section, we see a reaffirmation of the covenant. Abram is promised a land not yet his, and generations of descendants not yet here. These promises of God required great faith to believe.

Thtext is specific in Genesis 13:8, that the Canaanites and Perizzites were still living in the land. The conquest and settlement under Joshua would not happen for another 400 years. Furthermore, no child has yet been born to Abram. But God gave Abram a physical symbol of His promise. When He commanded Abram to walk the length and breadth of the land, He fulfilled an ancient practice that symbolized the receipt or appropriation of a land acquisition. Walking in faith, Abram obeyed.

What do these choices actually reveal?

The details of Genesis 13 may be more significant than casual reading may produce. The characterization of Lot opens with a statement of discontent and struggle between his and Abram’s servants, along with Lot’s self-serving choices. It ends with Lot settling in Sodom, mentioning the city’s extreme wickednessBy contrastthe discussion of Abram begins and ends with sacrifice and worship, first at Bethel and then at Hebron (Genesis 13:4, 17). 

When we turn the page to Genesis 14, these same themes of sacrifice and worship by Abram continue. This time the struggle is not within the clan of Abram, but between a coalition of kings and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. The coalition of forces under the leadership of Kedorlaomer, King of Elam, captures Sodom, which includes Lot and his family. At risk to himself and his own men, Abram engages the conquerors and rescues his nephew.

Upon the conclusion of his successful rescue mission, we have the fascinating account of Abram being blessed by Melchizedek and Abram paying tithes to him. By refusing any reward, even as little as the lace of sandal from King of Sodom, Abram knows God is his protector, the keeper of all His promises, and that every blessing comes from Him. Genuine worship is the rightful recognition of the value and worth of God in our lives.

God’s command to Abram to look in all directions to see what God would give him reminds us of another passage, Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:18 – 19, that they “may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Surely, God’s promises are always better than the choices we make for ourselves. May our eyes be lifted to see what God has promised to us, and may our choices match His choices.

“Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you.” – John C. Maxwell

 

Dr. Mark Bailey

Chancellor – Dallas Theological Seminary

Dr. Mark Bailey, member of the BSF Board of Directors, is the Chancellor and Senior Professor of Bible Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas, where he has served for 35 years. Prior to assuming the seminary’s presidency, Dr. Bailey served as Professor of Bible Exposition and Vice president for Academic Affairs and Provost. Alongside college and seminary teaching he pastored for twenty years in Arizona and Texas. He was seminar instructor for the Walk Thru the Bible Ministries for 20 years and is in demand for Bible conferences and other preaching engagements. He is currently on the teaching team at Christ Chapel Bible Church in Fort Worth Texas.

256 Comments

  1. This was a good message. I did do the Genesis however I did do some of the readings of Genesis.

    Reply
  2. What an insightful reminder of the importance of the choices we make. How the choices we make determine who we are authentically. I ask for God’s guidance to make choices of Faith and not choices of Flesh.

    Reply
  3. The study on the book of Genesis had been a blessing. May my choices be according to His Will.

    Reply
  4. Clear, meaningful message.
    Life always is presenting us with choices.

    Reply
  5. Oh how I pray that my every day choices will match God’s choices for my life as I rely on Him daily.

    Reply
  6. We just had a very interesting about our Choices tonight at our Church in Fresno. It centered around Matthew: 1, 1-11. How Jesus met every temptation perfectly. It is us that have to know when and how to say NO to SIN. God will never tempt us. We can or cannot be depending on our choices. When we accept the temptation and commit the sin, it will lead to death. We must be renewed daily by biblical knowledge to lead our lives. We all sin, and we all need to confess it, own, and repent it. Our live are know to Him, and so are our choices. He is always watching.
    You message was to the point and wonderful

    Reply
  7. Just what I needed to be reminded of. Thank you

    Reply
  8. Our study shows me that God is unchanging, in that obedience to HIS call and purpose for our lives are the same yesterday, today and in the next generation.
    Without obedience we cannot keep in His will. Obedience to praise Him, honour Him and serve others lovingly and considerately.
    “May our choices match His choices” is sure worth remembering and striving for towards the end of our lives on earth.

    Reply
  9. Thank you for the blog. I enjoyed reading it and pray that my choices
    will be God’s choice for me.
    May God continue to bless you and keep you in His care!

    Reply
  10. Thank you for this study contrasting Abram and Lot. In thinking of the choices we make some of us have often made wrong choices in the food we eat. Though being overweight seems to be the acceptable Christian sin, neverless it involves sin. I must confess God has and continues to deal with me about this. He has given Grace and strength to shed many pounds and get my blood sugar and blood pressure under control. I certainly have to depend on His power as junk food is all around us. All praise goes to Him for the success He has enabled me to have.

    Reply
  11. I have learned a lot from the Book of Genesis; about Abraham and Lot’s choices, Jacob and his grandchildren, and how Joseph succeeded in life though he had and later became a governor of an Egyptian province and saved his father and brothers during a seven-year famine. I also thank God for He has blessed me and I am looking forward to passing out His word.

    Reply
  12. Lovely exposition….I’m blessed! Ephesians 3:17-19 – May my eyes be lifted to see what God has promised to us, and may my choices match His choices!!

    Reply
  13. Amen , its wonderful how God’s word is a guide, light, that shows us how we ought to live. l am reminded of that narrow road that few find it and wide is the road that many walk into it and leads to distraction and all this narrows down to the choices we make. Thankyou Dr. Mark Bailey for reminding us of this.

    Reply
  14. May the Lord remind me to make choices based on Faith not flesh. God give me the grace to embrace and assist those that are in danger for making wrong choices.

    Reply
  15. Yes, there are so many choices we have to make in life and all of them will have a consequence. It is my prayer that I will learn to listen to God’s prompting and obey His leading even when I have to choose against my will.

    Reply
  16. I am very thankful for the study of Genesis. God has called my 102-years old maternal grandma (A-Ma) and my 87 years old dad home last year. I was in a great sorrow. The study of Genesis helped me to stay focus on God who never changes from generation to generation. My Lord is my ultimate pastor of my soul and spirit. I learned to follow God immediately like Abraham. Through Joseph, I learned to trust and obey God in all circumstances, see things from the sight of God and forgive others because God planned everything for the good of the Kingdom and for the character buildings in my life, even though we often may not understand it. Every year I study with BSF, God granted me new insight in His Words.
    1. In March 1993, my youngest child Jonathan had a rare and deadly cancer called Hemophagocytic syndrome. We offered hime back to the Lord to serve Him someday. At the time I was on BSF’s waiting list. That fall God allowed me to attend BSF. God used BSF to add the oil in my lamp when I need him the most. He also used my discussion leaders and ASKs to pray along side me to sustain me while we face the battle of cancer. God listened to everyone’s prayers and Jonathan became the first long term survivor without relapse from the cancer in US. After the doctors had successfully treated him, the death rate of the cancer dropped from 99% to 50%. I homes schooled Jonathan and my daughter and brought them to BSF with me. Thankfully God planted the seeds of truth in their hearts through many faithful and diligent teachers (like sister Susan Kolodziej and many other unknown spiritual laborers in my children’s lives). Jonathan is a family doctor serving near our area. Praise the Lord and thank you all and every blessings flowing to us from BSF!
    2. I fully understands and agrees that we ‘graduates’ need spare our spots for those never come to BSF. Meanwhile I always seeks opportunities when God allows me come back to BSF because whenever I came to the Lord through BSF teaching, my spirit is energized with God’s love and full of hopes.
    3. The year my church split, I was in deep pain spiritually and I had shingles. I cried out to the Lord that I need Him. I could never forgot the afternoon when I got a call from my new leader several weeks after BSF had started. I was invited back to BSF. I thankfully kneed down to worship the Lord on the spot after the call. On my first lesson back to BSF, God opened my eyes through the sisters’ sharing during the discussion time on how they walked through a church split. God used BSF again to strengthen me in a time I was almost cracked.

    Reply
    • I praise our Lord for your testimony and thank Him for.the way He has worked in your life.

      Reply
  17. Two choices explained so well, I pray I will remember this and choose wisely! When I fail I have the assurance of forgiveness!

    Reply
  18. Thank you for this beautiful analysis and reminder. Love the quotes and this comment “ Genuine worship is the rightful recognition of the value and worth of God in our lives.”
    Lotd I oray I would see with your eyes and make decisions on what you have called me to see. Bless all the faithful stewards and members serving in BSF.

    Reply
  19. My prayer request this morning was asking the Lord to show me his will for the summer. After reading this, I will look for guidance in his promises.

    Reply
  20. To look daily at the choices that are before me and realize my
    Lord is developing character that teaches me to trust His plan.
    Thank you for bringing review and remberance to the depth of our choices in following His lead. So very blessed.

    Reply
  21. From the choices by Abraham and Lot, I have learnt that my choice to day determines my tomorrow.

    From the faith of Abraham I have learnt that even if my weal self drives me to doubt God’s promises, I need to deliberately and blindly obey His commands and trust His characters that never change.
    All the glory to our gracious Lord.
    Thank you.
    God is to be praised.

    Reply
  22. Powerful blog describes the benefit of
    our choices we make in life.

    Reply
  23. What a thought that I completely missed. “But God gave Abram a physical symbol of His promise”. In the same way, God gives us the physical symbol of HIS eternal promise, that being Jesus Christ. Just as God gave Abraham the expectation of the promise, God gives us the expectation of Gen 3:15-“you serpent will bruise his heel, but HE the seed of the woman will crush your head”, victory over sin and eternal life with GOD in heaven.

    Beautiful

    Reply
  24. It is such a true and good observation that the circumstances of life gives us opportunities to grow our faith and trust in our GOD. The experience of reading and study of the Bible has been a great help in my life. The way BSF presents the lessons has added to my seeing with heart and mind how GOD speaks to us today. THANKS TO ALL!!

    Reply
  25. A choice of faith or a choice of the flesh – good to ponder on this in our daily walk. Appreciate your insight and comment on these chapters.

    Reply
  26. It’s very nice for me to read about the two choices (the one of the faith & the one of flesh)I have always struggled but now I choose the faith

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for more explanations. I am glad and love to read more.
      I really appreciate BSF for lessons each year.

      Reply
    • Thank you so much for more explanations. I am glad and love to read more.
      I really appreciate BSF for lessons each year. Looking forward for next year study.

      Reply
    • It’s any eye opening message” character of everyday choices” I need to focus on God, His Words and not on my sight- what I see.
      I walk by faith, lift my eyes on God’s promises over my life. My protector and keeper of my promises. I should continue worshiping Him !!
      Thanks for the message

      Reply
  27. That’s the prayer! A great prayer!! A new one to my list!!!: “May our eyes be lifted to see what God has promised to us, and may our choices match His choices.”
    Thanks.

    Reply
    • I thought the same and prayed: May my eyes be lifted to see what you Father have promised to Your children, and may my choices match Your choices everyday. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

      Reply
  28. Thank you for this insightful look at Genesis 13 and 14. Both tangible (in what we see and touch) and intangible (God and our faith) were clearly stated in this brief summation. Thank you for you service to DTS and BSF all these years.

    Reply
  29. Thank you for reminding us of this beautiful & encouraging Truth! Genesis was such an amazing & heart
    felt study. Father Abraham continues to set the example of God’s promises & provision. Our God is
    FAITHFUL.

    Reply
  30. Great insight. It is true choices discover a man/woman and what i choose, how i choose when a chance arises next worth is worth a deep reflection.

    Reply
  31. Great insight. It is true choices discovers a man.

    Reply
    • Holding self accountable every moment weighs the outcome, self serving or sacrificial

      Reply
  32. Surrender all and let God work in and through you then listen, trust and obey. Putting everything in God’s
    hands and watching Him transform our lives.

    Reply
  33. I truly enjoyed the study of Genesis. I’ve read and heard ministers speak from that book over the years as well as studying it a couple of years ago during our study of the books of Moses. This past year provided an opportunity for an in-depth study from which I hope I emerged with a greater understanding and love of God.

    A great review, thank you.

    Reply
  34. Thank you for the reflections on Genesis, Chapter 13 & 14. Indeed even as God has given us free will, to choose in our lives, the only sure choice one can make is choosing to follow God and by so doing The Holy Spirit will then guide us to make wise choices in life as we walk this life. God continue to bless us through this wonderful toll of BSF.

    Reply
  35. Very true every choice we make should not come from flesh but by faith. Beautiful exaple of Lot nd Abraham. Good insight God bless you.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This