Our ‘TRUE’ WEALTH originates from GOD ALONE: Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself." But Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, 'I have made Abram rich'-- except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion." (Gen. 14:21-24)
The background of this story is described in the beginning of this chapter when four kings made war with five other kings that included Bera, the king of Sodom (vv. 1-9). During the battle, these four kings plundered Sodom and Gomorrah and took all the goods from there along with Lot, Abram’s nephew (vv. 10-12). When Abram heard that his nephew was taken captive, he chased after this army with his 318 trained servants, eventually attacked them and reclaimed back Lot along with the other captives that included women and all their goods (vv. 13-16).
According to the war customs still existing among the Arab tribes in those days, Abram could have kept back all the recovered goods and people for himself, and his inherent right was acknowledged by Bera, the king of Sodom (vv. 17, 21). The king of Sodom said, in effect, “Give me the persons; you take all the material things.” In reacting to this proposal, Abram’s reply teaches us two valuable lessons that we should retain for our lives as well:
First, all the wealth that we possess originates from God alone. Abram replied that he wouldn’t take anything from the king of Sodom, even a thread or a sandal strap, for the simple reason that the king of Sodom should never boast in the future that his liberality has made Abram rich. Also, He did not want to be obligated to the king of Sodom, and wanted to demonstrate his total allegiance to God alone. His refusal to take any reward from the king of Sodom also attests to Abram’s independence of any human support. God and God alone was his source of supply!
However, the most important reason that Abram refused to take anything from the king of Sodom was because he believed that his wealth and inheritance came from God alone. The writer of Hebrews makes this clear for us: "By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God." (Heb. 11:8-10)
Second, people are more valuable than all the material goods in this world. When the king of Sodom offered to give away all the goods to Abram that they had recaptured back from the enemy in exchange for his trained men, Abram refused knowing fully well the value of his people. He took only food for his men and gave his allies the liberty to accept the spoils that were due them. Abram understood the value of a human soul could not be compared to earthly goods, as Jesus has attested: "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:36-37)