18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
20 And praise be to God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand.”
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.”
22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, 23 that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’
Genesis 14:18-23 NIV (New International Version)
Think about a time when you had a great thing happen to you. One of the great achievements I can remember was when I received my Master’s in Education from Seminary. I was so proud of myself because it took a lot of hard work to get through the program. However, the moment I received my degree the first person I gave praise to was to God, for had it not been for Him, I would have quit many times over. When success comes your way, it can be easy to claim that the achievement originated from your skills and brain power. Let’s see how Abram handled success.
Let me set up the scene. A coalition of kings went to war with another coalition of kings that were headed by the wicked kings of Sodom and Gomorrah (where Abram’s nephew lot was staying). The first coalition defeated the Sodom alliance and took away captive many of the city’s inhabitants (including Lot). When Abram heard this, he organized his household and some of his allies and pursued the marauders. Even though they were outnumbered, Abram was successful in defeating the enemy and liberated all the captives.
What happens when you claim the credit for your accomplishments? It creates a false sense of independence that forms a belief that you do not need God for anything, you can handle it by yourself. I can imagine that Abram had such feelings lingering in his mind as he returned from his victory. He probably thought really high of himself. Then God brought to Abram Melchizedek, who brought him back down to earth. Melchizedek was the king of Salem and high priest to the Most High God. The king reminded Abram that the source of his success rested on the fact that he was blessed by God and because of that blessing, God gave him this great victory.
Once you have a clear perspective of where credit is due for all your accomplishments (they all come from God’s blessing), it is easier to live life with a humble disposition and to do tasks with the right motivation. It was through this humility that Abram refused to accept the offer from the king of Sodom, to keep the war spoils for himself. Even though it was his right as the victor, Abram understood the cause of the king’s calamity was the result of his wickedness. Since Sodom was under God’s wrath (as shown by this calamity), Abram wanted no association with their wickedness. He did not fight to obtain loot, but to preserve his family’s honor (by rescuing Lot). Since it was for this reason that Abram fought, God gave him the victory.
What motivates you to do certain things and when you accomplish them, who do you give credit? When you and I consider the things that we do, we must evaluate these activities according to the following criteria: will it bring honor to God or to myself; and when it is done will I give Him credit or not? If the activity passes the criteria, then we can proceed bearing in mind that we must strive to remember where our success comes from. To forget is to replace humility with pride; and pride comes before a disaster.