Robert Jeffress - Refusing To Second Guess Your Right Decisions
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". After making a essential decision, it's natural to feel regret. But sometimes, we're regretful after making a good decision. Abraham, the great man of faith, had this experience when he second guessed his decision to obey God. And if you've ever suffered from believer's remorse, I want you to hear my message today called, "Refusing To Second Guess Your Right Decisions," on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".
Buyer's remorse. You know the concept, don't you? It's that feeling you have after making a large purchase and you begin second guessing your decision. "If only I had bought a bigger size, or a different color. If only I'd waited for a sale". You know, the only thing more painful than second guessing your decisions with regret is second guessing those decisions with fear, doing what you think is the right thing and then starting to fear the consequences. A student decides that they're not going to cheat on the exam, but then they begin to worry, "What if I fail the course"? An employee refuses to follow her boss's edict to cheat, to cut corners, and then she begins to fear, "What if I lose my job"?
A Christian begins to obey God through tithing but then begins to wonder, "What if I don't have enough money"? We had a viewer of "Pathway to Victory" in Virginia recently who wrote to us and said that she had listened to a a message on marriage and made the commitment to obey God and stay in her marriage, but then she began to fear, "What if that means I'm condemned to a life of loneliness and unhappiness"? You know, we sing the song or we used to, you remember it? "Trust and obey for there's no other way than to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey". It's a nice song but it's somewhat misleading. If you interpret it to mean if you trust and obey God, everything's gonna turn out all right. Well, eventually, that's true but it doesn't happen immediately. Sometimes, we regret not just wrong decisions, but right decisions.
As we're going to discover today in our study in the life of Abraham, there's only one remedy to regrets over the right decisions we make and that remedy is faith. If you have your Bibles, turn to Genesis chapter 14. Genesis chapter 14, as we discover some help in refusing to second guess our right decisions. The kings of the Jordan Valley, that included the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, they had lived for years under the reign of a coalition of Eastern kings led by Chedorlaomer. And so they had paid taxes to Chedorlaomer every year for 12 years. But after 12 years of paying taxes to this monarch, they, kind of like our American colonists, decided, "No taxation without representation. We're not gonna pay King Henry anymore. We're not gonna pay King Chedorlaomer anymore. We're gonna stop paying to this coalition of kings".
They did that in the 13th year, quit paying their taxes. In the 14th year, Chedorlaomer said, "We're not gonna put up with this rebellion any longer". So Chedorlaomer leads a group of kings from the East and they invade the Jordan Valley where these rebellious kings were, including the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. And what happens when Chedorlaomer invades? Well, some of the people fled immediately to the hills of Masada, some of them fled there, leaving their possessions behind. Verse 10 tells us there were tar pits in the area, tar that was used earlier to build the tower of Babel. Some of the kings fled and got stuck in the tar pits. That was the king of Sodom and Gomorrah. They left behind their treasures. And those residents who stayed, including the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah, they were taken captive.
Now, who was living in Sodom and Gomorrah when this war broke out and the residents were taken captive? Guess who was there? Our old friend, Lot. It's interesting, the last time we saw Lot in chapter 13, he moved to the edge of Sodom, this city of wickedness. He didn't move into it yet, but he was kind of attracted to it, tantalized by it, so he moved to the edge. When we get to chapter 14, he's right smack dab in the middle of Sodom and he ends up getting taken captive by Chedorlaomer. May I point out an obvious but important truth? The most dangerous place in the world you can be is outside God's will. When you're outside God's will, you're in the most dangerous place you can be. Likewise, the safest place you can be, regardless of what's going on around you, is in the middle of God's will. Lot had moved his family outside God's will and so they end up being taken captive, along with the other captives.
Now, what happens? Look at verse 13: "Then a fugitive," somebody escaped from those who had been taken captive, "and told Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living by the oaks of Mamre". Now, there is an interesting nuance here in the Hebrew language. It says, "Abram was living in Canaan by the oaks of Mamre". That word, Hebrew word, "living," means existing. It's the idea of a temporary dwelling-place. Remember, Abraham lived in a tent, even though he was a wealthy man. As the old gospel song says, "This world is not my home. I'm just a-passing through". You know, when I think about that, I think about the late British writer, Malcolm Muggeridge. He had an autobiography, "Chronicles of Wasted Time," and he talked about in his autobiography as "feeling like a stranger in this world," he said.
And one time, a television journalist asked him what he meant by "living as a stranger in this land," and this is what Malcolm Muggeridge said: "In World War II I was in North Africa when I heard a lieutenant colonel use the phrase, 'Displaced person'. That phrase was very poignant to me, but it's a very good definition of a person who's come to see that life is not about carnal things, it's not about success, but it's about eternity rather than time. I don't really belong here; I'm simply staying here". That was Abraham's philosophy: "I'm not really belong in this world; I'm just staying in this world for now".
Contrast that to Lot who thought this world was the final place for him. He drove down those stakes in the city of Sodom and isn't it interesting that the one who ended up getting uprooted was Lot? He got taken captive and so, when Abraham heard the news from this fugitive that his nephew had been taken captive, what was his reaction? Abraham wanted to rescue his nephew, Lot. You see, Abraham understood that true love is not giving people what they deserve; it's giving people what they need. Isn't that how God dealt with us? In Titus 3, verses 4 and 5, it says: "When the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, God saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we've done in righteousness, but according to His mercy".
Aren't you glad we serve a kind God, a God who doesn't give us what we deserve: justice, separation from God, punishment for our sins? But he gives us what we need and that is grace. That's exactly what Abraham did with Lot. He dealt with him according to grace, and so he organized a group of 318 men, verse 15 says. Three hundred and eighteen men and they go on a rescue mission. They go after the forces of Chedorlaomer. They defeat Chedorlaomer who runs for the hills and leaves all the stolen loot behind, including the hostages that included Lot. And from this point on, Abraham was already a legend.
Now he moves to superhero status. Everybody's talking about Abraham. And because Chedorlaomer left behind all this loot, as well as all these captives, a rich man, Abraham, became even richer. He had all of this stuff now, all of these people. What would he do? And so we see Abraham facing a new test. And again, it's a test of not how he handles adversity; how does he handle this newfound prosperity? Well, the test comes in the form of two kings that he meets.
Now, first of all, he meets a king named Melchizedek. Look at verse 18: "And Melchizedek, the king of Salem," that was probably ancient Jerusalem. "Melchizedek, the king of Salem, brought out bread and wine to Abraham; now he was a priest of the Most High God". This is the first time a priest is mentioned in the Bible. Now, what does Melchizedek say when he meets Abraham? "He blessed him," verse 19, "and said, 'Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth'". The word in Hebrew Melchizedek uses for God is El-Elyon. It means the Creator God, the Possessor God, the God who owns everything. God owns everything in this universe because he created everything in this universe.
You know, the Christian financial consultant, Ron Blue, says the first principle you need to understand to get your finances in order is that God owns everything. Now, most of us say, "Okay, that's great, Ron. What's the second principle"? Don't skip over that. God owns everything you have. We own nothing. We're just managers, stewards of what belongs to God. And when you understand that, it gives you a whole different perspective on your finances. Remember first, God owns it all anyway, it's just a question of how much you're gonna get back to what belongs to him. That's what Melchizedek reminded Abraham: "Abraham, God owns it all". Look at verse 20, and he goes on to say, "And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand".
Abraham, God's the one who granted you victory over Chedorlaomer. And there's no pushback from Abraham on this. Abraham doesn't say, "Oh, Melchizedek, you don't understand. God has no hands but my hands. He has no feet but my feet. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah". No, Abraham acknowledges that, and he acknowledges it by look at what it says. He says: "And Abraham gave a tenth of all to Melchizedek". He gave a tithe of all of his possessions to Melchizedek. This is the first time tithing is mentioned in the Bible. Now, having that encounter with the priest, being reminded that God's the one who gave him victory, prepared him for the second king he met: Bera, the king of Sodom.
Verse 21: "The king of Sodom said to Abram, 'Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself'". Do you know what I stumbled over all week in studying this passage? How did the king of Sodom get out of the tar pit? Last time we saw him, he had fled and was caught up in the tar pit, it says in chapter 14. How did he get out of the tar pit? Well, maybe Abraham rescued him. But when he gets out of the tar pit, he says, "Abram, you've got all of this new treasure that belonged to my people, and you've got all of my people, the residents of Sodom, so I wanna make a deal with you.
And here's the deal. You keep the money, I'll take the captives back, and it's a win-win for both of us". And what does Abram say to that? "No deal. No deal". Why? Verses 22 and 23: "Abram said to the king of Sodom, 'I have sworn to the Lord God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say: I have made Abram rich'". He said, "If I get into this deal with you, I might be richer for it, but God's glory will be diminished. If I take this money from you and give you the captives back, people will say what a shrewd negotiator you were instead of how great God is. So this is what I'm gonna do. I'm not gonna take any of your possessions. If my men want it, the 318, they're entitled to it. But I'm not gonna take anything from you that would diminish the glory of God. I want people to know God is the one who has given the victory".
After refusing the gifts of the king of Sodom, it was after these things that a bad case of believer's remorse set in. After these things, the Word of the Lord came to Abraham in a vision saying, "Do not fear, Abram". Why did he say, "Do not fear"? Because apparently, Abraham was fearing. God looked down on his servant and saw him having these restless nights in which he tossed and turned. He said, "Abram, don't be afraid". What was Abraham afraid of? He was having believer's remorse for making the right decision. The first phrase describes what he was fearing: what if? What if? He began to wonder, "What if Chedorlaomer isn't defeated, he's just simply regrouping and he's gonna come and attack me again? What if, what if, what if"? You know nothing will paralyze you with fear any more than that phrase, "What if? What if"? Play these mindgames: "what if this happens? What is this happen"?
One time, I read an interesting study by Dr. Walter Cabot that says only 8% of the things we worry about actually ever happen. Did you know that? Eight percent. Ninety-two percent of the things that we stay awake at night worrying about never happen. Isn't that just like Satan to paralyze you with "what if" fear, lies that never come true? John 8:44 says Jesus said, "Satan is a liar and he is the father of all lies". God says to Abraham, "Don't fear. I am your shield. I'm your shield. I'm your protector. You don't have to worry about Chedorlaomer; I'm your protector". God says he's our hedge. He has built a hedge around every believer. You know, Satan is a liar, but that doesn't mean everything he says that is a lie. Sometimes, even Satan gets it right.
Remember what he said about Job in Job 1:10? He said to God, "No wonder Job worships you. Haven't you placed a hedge around him and his household and everything that is his? You're the protector of Job. No wonder he worships you," Satan says. And it was true: God had put a hedge around Job and his family. But then God lowered the hedge. He gave Satan temporary permission to go after Job, but it was all still part of God's plan. Listen to me. That's the reason we don't have to fear. Proverbs 12:21 says: "No harm befalls the righteous". Now, that's a lousy translation of the Hebrew, because we know that's not true. "No harm befalls the righteous"? Lots of harm befalls righteous people. Terrible things happen to righteous people. But that's not what the Hebrew text says. It literally says: "Nothing without purpose happens to the godly".
There is nothing that comes into your life that has not been allowed by a good, loving, perfect God. And if it's come through the will of God, it comes for your good and for the glory of God. Believers, don't fear. God is our shield. And then he goes on to say: "And I am your reward, Abraham". Why did he say that? I think Abraham not only had a case of the "What-ifs," but he was also suffering from the "If only" regrets. "Did I really wanna give up all that money, all that treasure? I could have done some good things with that money. If only I'd kept it, I could trade in my tent for a mansion in Highland Park. I could trade in this lousy chariot for a Sodom Sedan. I mean, I could have more. Maybe I made the wrong mistakes. What if I had kept this money? If only I'd kept it, I would be richer".
What does God say? "Abraham, I'm not only your shield. I am your reward". You know, the Bible says in Hebrews 11:6: "Those who come to God must believe two things: that God is and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently follow him". There is a reward for obeying God. It doesn't always come immediately, but it always comes ultimately. A.W. Tozer in his book, "The Knowledge of the Holy," said, "The most important thing about us is what comes into our mind when we think about God". When you think about God, what comes into your mind? Only those who think of God as their shield, their reward, can avoid the regret and fears that come from making the right decisions.