Genesis Day 26: Our motivation is tightly linked to our hoped-for reward
After you accomplish something really hard, what do you hope for?
For some it is the satisfaction of a job well done. For others it is a simple pat on the back by your boss. Perhaps it is a bonus or pay raise. Maybe a trophy. The list is long.
I want to ask: what determines what you are hoping for? By my way of thinking, it is the motivation you had in the first place, before you ever started. Why do you want to spend the energy? What outcome are you hoping for?
Why do I ask? Because at times I am around people who are frustrated—frustrated with not receiving what they “felt they were due.” Let’s face it—it is not just other people, there are days it is me.
I have this tendency, to take on a project, do it, and then expect my wife to simply gush all over me for completing it. When it doesn’t happen, after I mope a bit, I will tell her that I am disappointed that she did not appreciate what I did. She is apologetic, but also a bit flabbergasted. She will point out, “David, I never asked you to do that, I thought you were killing yourself on that project because it was important to you.” Well, okay, sure, it is true that I never asked her. And it is probably true that if I had she would have something like she would rather I relax, because I am working too hard. Or…well…but…I mean…shouldn’t she gush all over me, anyway?
Short answer is, No, she shouldn’t.
Why do I bring this up? Because in Genesis chapter 14, beyond all the names (which are meant to ground us in the fact that a war really happened), we see Abram not wanting an excessive reward. Why?
Two reasons, I think.
First, he made a vow to God. We don’t actually read the oath in scripture. I am thinking that he prayed to God before he entered this war. Why do I think that? We see in verse 14 what looks like a “post-prayer report”. Perhaps in his prayer he prayed something like, “Lord, deliver these enemies into my hands. Lord, I will not take any plunder so that people will always know that my wealth comes from you.”
The second reason is that Abram went to save Lot. I believe this was his motivation, and therefore this was his reward.
And he was content with it. I imagine the war was hard. I expect people were injured, even killed. Yet, Abram seems to have counted the cost of this.