Monday, April 28, 2008

Abraham and Chocolate Cake - Genesis 13

From my list of basic parenting Strategies that (sometimes) work:
If there is a last piece of chocolate cake to divide between two children, do not divide it for them. This inevitably leads to arguments over who got the biggest piece. Instead, pick one child to cut the cake and give the other child first choice. This may still lead to arguing, but tends to shift it away from the parent.

The underlying issue is fairness. We seem to have an inborn need to make sure we get "our fair share" and it starts at a very young age.

In Genesis 13, Abram cuts the piece of cake and gives his nephew Lot the first choice. They each have large herds and the people managing their animals keep bumping into each other, fighting over water and grazing land. Abram offers to divide the land and give Lot first choice.

As would be expected, Lot chooses the fertile Jordan valley, with its ready supply of water, greener pastures and urban centers. Abram is left with the high ground -- good land, but with water issues, less reliable grazing land and a more rural atmosphere.

By rights, Abram could have divided things up any way he wanted. Boundaries could be drawn so that they could share the fertile valley. And, based on later events, Lot was probably already a bit of a nuisance to have around. Abram wasn't getting a "fair share."

How could Abram be so casual? He held on to the land lightly because of his faith -- his willingness to trust God and God's promises. He didn't need to hold on to the land tightly, because it wasn't his to hold on to.

How lightly we hold onto things is one measure of faith. Do we worry about how the piece of cake is sliced? Are we measuring to make sure we get our "fair share?"

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