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. Thank you for elaborate sermon, am inspired to stick on the teaching of the bible and the word of God

    Reply
  2. Dr. Bailey, Genesis has been an amazing study this year and you have given a great summary. I am in my third year of study with Bible Study Fellowship and have learned so much. I pray that God will put a seal of protection on all the material put in BSF lessons; that it will all be based on God’s Word and God’s Word alone. There are many thoughts and ideas that erode our Christian beliefs and I pray that none of those will enter into BSF Lessons. Sometimes we don’t even see that it’s being done. I just ask that you and all Bible Study Fellowship leadership will be diligent in keeping our lessons purely from God’s Word. Thank you for all that you do to get God’s teaching out to so many people. Your work is greatly appreciated!
    Very respectfully,
    Velda

    Reply
    Vanna on June 5, 2021 at 10:12 PM

    Reply
  3. Thank you very much for the encouraging message. I press on with Jesus and serve Him as I gain the support from fellow leaders and group. May God continued to bless this ministry and more people come to know Jesus and increase the knowledge of of God words and walking in faith

    Reply
  4. Amen. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  5. Always I am being reminded to LOOK UP—-PRAY for HIS DIRECTION IN ALL that I do—— GOD’S PLANS for me are better than I could ever imagine—-
    I, too, can get off track and be drawn to what looks familiar or something intriguing but not good for me—— STOP— get into THE WORD…. HE LOVES ME 👆

    Reply
  6. The blog well explained n a good reminder of the study of Genesis.
    I pray for God’s directed choices🙏🏽

    Reply
  7. Our life direction based on God’s Word to us. Amen

    Reply
  8. Thanks for your insights about Abraham and Lot’s choices and God’s blessing on good ones that match His desires for us.

    Reply
  9. It’s indeed marvellous to know and to realise that the way Abram was asked to go through the length and breadth of his future inheritance is brought in close comparison to Paul’s understanding and insight into the length, breadth and depth of height of God’s love for all of us now and in future generations to come!

    We who are unworthy are offered such a splendid and lavish provision of God’s great and majestic Love ! Indeed our hearts sing and bring forth our hearts of sacrifice and worship which Abram did all through his life.

    Soli Deo Gloria!—To God alone be the glory!

    Reply
  10. Your words are a blessing may you enjoy as you walk your walk in Christ. May every aspect you seeking for be open to you through Christ as you pray and wait for answers. In Jesus name.

    Reply
    • What seems insignificant can be very very significant! Looking back at life we (I) can see how little choices can make a big difference ! Thank you for your insight!

      Reply
  11. Great message to ponder on daily how every decision great or small has an impact. Thank you for this insight.

    Reply
  12. Thank you for the follow up of the study in Genesis. Gods promises are true. Looking forward to other blog to follow

    Reply
  13. Gen13:14 is a fav verse. In my older version of NIV the Lord said to Abram
    “Lift up your eyes from where you are….new NIV look around from where you are. I believe Abram & my success is always to lift up our eyes to the Lord to receive all that we lack to make the right choices …them when we “look around” to all we see our hearts will be enlightened & God honoring.
    Thanks so much for choosing to share on these important verses that have impacted my life.

    Reply
  14. I enjoyed you thoughts about Genesis. The last time our class met, we commented that our familiarity of the general story of Genesis allowed us to look at the book in a different way. Like the thoughts in your article, God’s election in respect to the less-than-perfect life of the entire family of Abraham, and what all of this means for us.

    Reply
  15. Thank you for your blog. I always like to be reminded of our everyday responsibility of choices.
    Genesis showed how God blessed his people when they chose his way throughout the book.

    Reply
  16. Thank you for sharing. Enjoyed what you had to say.
    God bless you.

    Reply
  17. Great review and reminder of the principles and points we discussed in our BSF discussion class.

    Reply
  18. Thank you so much for this follow up to Genesis. Perfect timing as God’s timing is always perfect. I am looking forward to the forthcoming blogs.

    Reply
  19. Deeply satisfying. A great insight into God’s unfailing and timeless promises.

    Reply
  20. Amen and Amen The Mystery of God and how he works is the beauty of who He is. Thank you for speaking this truth.

    Reply
  21. Thanks for the sharing.

    Reply
    • Thank you for bring both the new and old testament together. Paul said for we walk by faith not by sight 2 Cor.5:7 God is truly the same yesterday, today and forever.

      Reply
  22. Thank you for the exposition of chapter 13,. This is a good reminder, to be careful in the way I make daily life choices.

    Reply
  23. It helps me to focus on things unseen rather than things that I see in the natural also I always want to keep my focus on god

    Reply
  24. The lack of revelance of the Church today is telling and harkens back to the judgement against the Jewish Clergy and nation because the rejection of Christ which is an example to us. There religion was rife with Hellenistic paganism and the same is true today. Judgement always begins with the house of God.

    Reply
  25. Studying the Bible has taught me so much of how to live my life in God’s will.
    Yes choices have many
    consequences.
    BSF has been a blessing in my life and I will continue in the next study.
    This is my eleventh year.
    Blessing to you and all who make BSF possible.

    Reply
  26. (What man chooses and how he chooses) thanks about that statement. May the Lord give me eyes of faith and always look to the Lord for guidance. Tmwanzia

    Reply
  27. This article has inspired me to look at issues of life with the eyes of faith.

    Reply
  28. I am very lucky and its a privilege being part of reading Dr. Mark Bailey, Chancellor. I could wish to be his biological son. I accept he is my Dad. It I a great to have such practical Fathers. their practical life experience commitment with integrity is governing me.

    May God Bless more and more

    warm greetings

    Mengistu Dinote Kussia

    Reply
  29. Thanks for the review of Abraham and Lot, your summary is a blessing. Love BSF.

    Reply
  30. Thanks, Dr. Mark, for reminding us that the choices we make everyday must be directed by God. Without His leading we make choices from the flesh instead of spiritual choices. Also, the choices we make can impact our lives and the lives of others. So, I need to be sure I am following God-lead choices that will keep me in His light and from the darkness.

    Reply
  31. Dr Bailey
    Thank you for the this insight in in your commentary. It has encouraged me to always look to God when I am faced with challenges. God’s promises are true and he is always available to rescue us from struggles and challenges. I appreciate and grateful to what I am learning from BSF. Thank you.

    Reply
  32. Thanks for the message in your blog.

    I was reminded of my call to be a BSF Teaching Leader. It came on the day I read Oswald Chambers’ May 25th devotional in MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST… Genesis !3:9… it was transformational in my life!

    Reply
  33. Dr. Bailey, Genesis has been an amazing study this year and you have given a great summary. I am in my third year of study with Bible Study Fellowship and have learned so much. I pray that God will put a seal of protection on all the material put in BSF lessons; that it will all be based on God’s Word and God’s Word alone. There are many thoughts and ideas that erode our Christian beliefs and I pray that none of those will enter into BSF Lessons. Sometimes we don’t even see that it’s being done. I just ask that you and all Bible Study Fellowship leadership will be diligent in keeping our lessons purely from God’s Word. Thank you for all that you do to get God’s teaching out to so many people. Your work is greatly appreciated! Very respectfully, Maria

    Reply
  34. Thank you. BSF is a blessing.

    Reply
  35. I am confused about a relationship & this article comes at a good time in my life & not being like Lot and being still and let god help me choose my direction in going forward. God blessed his faithful children. Thank you

    Reply

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