Genesis 12:1-3 (NRSV)
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
We can easily make the case that these three verses in Genesis 12 provide the foundation for God’s great story of redemption, which reaches across the Old Testament and finds ultimate fulfillment in Jesus. Chapters 1 through 11 in Genesis have seen increasing estrangement between God and humanity, culminating in the disaster at the Tower of Babel. Now Scripture narrows its focus to one man and one family, chosen to partner with God in blessing “all the families of the earth” by restoring people everywhere to right relationship with their Creator.
Like Abram (later renamed Abraham), we have been chosen to partner with God in this great reconciling mission of turning people’s hearts back toward God. If Abram would obey God and “go,” then God promised to bless Abram and, through Abram, to bless others who witnessed his faith. In like manner, our obedience to God in our relationships will bring blessing on ourselves and also to the people God intends to bless through us.
Abram’s example of faithful obedience offers us three principles to follow as we partner with God:
Trust God to lead you in the right way. God told Abram to “go” without telling him his destination or what he could expect to happen. God may tell us to “go” and do something difficult—call or write someone from whom we’ve been estranged; apologize, even when we don’t feel completely at fault; offer kindness to someone who has treated us harshly—when we don’t know how our actions will be received.
Be willing to leave behind what’s familiar. God told Abram to leave behind old attachments so that God could use him in a special way. Habits that keep us locked in conflict, such as brooding, self-pity, or stubbornness, God may ask us to give up so that we can cultivate habits that make us a blessing to others: patience, gentleness, forgiveness, compassion, generosity, fairness, and faithfulness.
Make your faith transparent. As Abram traveled through Canaan, he built altars and worshiped God in plain view of the pagan Canaanites, who had never before encountered this generous and loving God. When we obey God and do the unexpected—forgive a friend’s betrayal, respond with patience to unfair treatment, admit when we’ve been wrong, seek forgiveness from someone we have hurt, or bear the cost of someone else’s wrongdoing—people are curious to know what prompts us to such behaviors. Like Abram, we can bless others by openly giving God the credit for the goodness they see in us and for the healing that may result from our acts of obedience.
FATHER, I ask for the strength and will to set aside my personal agenda and be your instrument of blessing in my relationships. Give me faith to trust your leading, courage to let go of my old ways of thinking and behaving, and humility to give you the credit for every blessing that results from my acts of obedience. Give me love for each person you bring into my life, however briefly, so that I may desire your goodness for them and be a blessing in whatever way you will use me.
Deuteronomy 28:9-10; Hebrews 11:8-10
Name one attitude or habit that might keep you from being a blessing in a relationship.