Worship. Serve. Go.
Abram’s Gift to Lot
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Genesis 13:1 “Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he
had, and Lot with him, into the south.”
Abram’s relationship with Lot is the basis of this message focusing on the importance of “Worship. Serve. Go.” This motto reminds us of our duty. What do we at Second Baptist do? “Worship. Serve. Go.” It is a threefold key to well-rounded, successful Christian life. Each believer should seek to excel in all three.
In Abram’s handling of wayward Lot, we see an example of how best to deal with people straying from the Lord. As Abram shows, “Worship. Serve. Go.” provides us a well-focused lens on how to view the wayward.
Abraham used “Worship” to bless Lot. When Sodom, where Lot lived, was about to be destroyed, Abraham interceded for Lot. He “drew near (to YHWH), and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?” (GN 18:23).
Pray for the lost. We may see little results in other matters of prayer, but when prayers come under the “therefore” of the Great Commission (MT 28:19), we line ourselves up with what Jesus wants to use His authority for (MT 28:18).
On his first voyage to China, Hudson Taylor had six months to grow in his “worship” to the Lord. The trip was fraught with mishaps and danger. He learned the value of depending on the Lord in this matter of dealing with lostness.
At one point on the crossing, the ship was helplessly drifting toward an island inhabited by cannibals who were excitedly running up and down the beach, obviously thrilled at the prospect of fresh meat for supper. The captain, giving up hope, said to Hudson Taylor, “Well, we have done everything that can be done; we can only await the result.” Taylor’s diary records the rest of the story.
“I replied, “No, there is one thing we have not done yet.” “What is it?” he queried. “Four of us on board are Christians,” I answered. “Let us each retire to his cabin, and in agreed prayer ask the Lord to give us immediately a breeze. He can easily send it now.” The captain agreed to this proposal. I had a good but very brief season in prayer, and then felt so satisfied that our request was granted that I could not continue asking, and very soon went up again on deck. The first officer–a godless man–was in charge. I went over and asked him to let down the clews or corners of the mainsail. He answered, “What would be the good of that?” I told him we had been asking a wind from God, that it was coming immediately, and that we were so near the reef by this time that there was not a minute to lose. With a look of incredulity and contempt, he said with an oath that he would rather see a wind than hear of it. But while he was speaking, I watched his eye go upward to the topmost sail, and there, sure enough, the corner of the sail was beginning to tremble in the coming breeze. In a few minutes, we were ploughing our way at six or seven knots through the water, and the multitude of naked savages whom we had seen on the beach had no wreckage that night.”
Let’s not hesitate to call “Worship” to our aid in thinking of the lost. Pray for them and for strategies and works that will succeed in reaching them. Bathe the whole missions and evangelism enterprise in prayer. On behalf of the lost, “keep in perpetual motion the machinery of prayer” (Spurgeon).
Abram used “Serve” to bless Lot. When their flocks and herds became too numerous, Abram humbled himself. He served Lot by letting him have first choice of property. “Is not the whole land before thee? Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left” (GN 13:9).
Spiritual gifts are the primary tool whereby we believers are to minister to one another. Our service begins here at church, but must not end there. We love one another, and then let the love spill over onto others outside the family.
This love shown to prechristians baffles them, captures their attention. We will win the lost when we serve them beyond their ability to understand.
This is the reason we ask small groups to do at least one major project in a totally secular venue every year. To win unbelievers, we must serve them.
Conveying truth is essential to our mission, but physical, mental, and emotional hurts in the listeners seriously obstruct their ability to hear and receive the truth being spoken. Sad, hurting, hungry people have trouble hearing facts.
Relieving people’s pain aids their disposition to listen. The lost won’t believe we care for their spirits until they first see we care for their bodies. For earthbound creatures, talk of Jesus and Heaven is easier to hear when self and Earth are made more tolerable.
Abram used “Go” to bless Lot. When Lot was kidnapped as a prisoner of war, Abram journeyed to rescue him. “He armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan” (GN 14:14b).
Jesus described lost sheep as being scattered. Therefore, we believers must scatter to find them. The motto of People’s Church in Toronto is true, “Untold millions are still untold.” Two billion, including some of our next door neighbors, have never heard the old, old story of Jesus and His love. Someone needs to go tell them. The Bible still needs to be translated into hundreds of languages. We need to go learn the languages.
In the context of missions and evangelism, the operative word to describe our target group is “lost.” The solution to lostness is for the already found to go find the lost. Luke devoted a whole chapter (15) to teaching us what our attitude toward the lost should be. Jesus spoke of a lost coin, lost son, and lost sheep.
People are lost due to carelessness, like a coin that falls out of our pocket. Do we get angry at money we drop? The lady who lost her coin lit a lamp, swept the house, and searched until she found it. Hers is the proper response. Don’t lose precious time and energy condemning a coin. Do whatever it takes to find the lost.
People are lost due to unwise decisions, like the prodigal son. Shall we gleefully pronounce anathemas on people who make wrong choices because their whole world view is skewed? The father knew his son was wrong – wrong! – but gladly welcomed the lost home. From childhood people in our culture are taught to depend on themselves, to look inward, not upward, for strength. It is illogical to think people living in this dense a fog can make clear decisions.
People are lost due to helplessness, like sheep, not like dogs, cows, pigs, or horses, which can find their way home. Sheep, when left alone, show no ability or propensity to head home. On their own, sheep are helpless, as likely to run to a precipice as to a shelter. Someone has to retrieve them. This is where we come in. We know of their guilt, but disregard it enough to give ourselves recklessly to the pursuit of finding lost sheep wandering precariously close to a precipice over Hell.
“Worship. Serve. Go.” This was Abram’s threefold blessing for Lot. May the three constitute our blessing for those straying from the fold. Pray for the lost, serve them, pursue them.