Not by Sight

Words by Emily Tyler | Illustrations by Marie Warner Preston


The land could no longer support both Abram and his nephew Lot; it was time for them to part ways. Abram was entitled to choose his piece of land first, but he doesn't, and in doing so, he offers us an important lesson in lifting our eyes to get God's vision and perspective. Join us on the blog as we explore what it means to walk by faith and not by sight.


Genesis 12:10-13:18


Ever had to share a piece of cake with a sibling? One person gets to cut and the other can choose their slice. I’ve watched my own children painstakingly observe, compare, and examine the pieces to ensure they give the best bit to the other. I’m kidding—of course they choose the piece that appears biggest and best for themselves!


When needing to divide the land due to its inability to feed and provide pasture for both Abram and Lot’s flocks, Lot does much the same as my children when he looks around and sees the lush, well-watered plain of the Jordan. He prioritises possessions over people and “chose for himself” (Genesis 13:11) based on what he sees. He picks the biggest slice.


The problem with choosing for yourself based on sight is that you don’t always get it right. Your slice of cake might be bigger, but it may have less frosting. Lot’s choice to position himself near Sodom is problematic for a number of reasons:


He travels east. When Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden, they were sent eastwards. Throughout Genesis, moving east equals bad news.


He chooses the whole plain of Jordan. ‘Jordan’ means ‘descender;’ it’s like death. What appears to be life-giving on the outside leads quickly down to the Dead Sea, waters in such an arid climate and so salty that nothing can live there.


His proximity to Sodom sucks him into sin. The next time we hear of Lot, he’s no longer living near Sodom—he’s living in Sodom (Genesis 14:12).


Lot doesn’t think beyond instant gratification. Unlike Lot, Abram chooses the way of faith by trusting God’s choice even when, in the short term, it appears to be the inferior one.


The loudest complaint when cake sharing goes wrong is, “It’s not fair!” Human nature wants us to stand up for ourselves and fight for what’s rightfully ours. As the patriarch of the family, it is Abram’s right to pick first. It is his right to have the better piece of land. Yet, Abram chooses peace over possessions. He humbles himself and honours God by laying down his ‘head of household’ title, relinquishing his rights and preferring Lot. In doing so, he receives the seemingly smaller piece of cake.


But God has already promised that this land will be Abram’s (Genesis 12:7). God waits for Lot to depart and then reminds Abram of this, directing him to “look around” because He is going to give it all to him and his offspring (Genesis 13:14-16). Not some, not a piece of the cake—all of it. Abram doesn’t have to do anything; God says He will give it to him. Both Lot and Abram are looking at the same piece of land. Lot sees what is physically in front of him, but God calls Abram to see by faith what is coming.


We need God’s perspective to see beyond the physical to the promise.


We are called to lay down our rights and live counter-culturally, “by faith, not sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). We are called to choose God’s way—people over possessions, peace over conflict, unseen over seen—and we do that by trusting God’s Word.


Choosing land, or cake, can be a tricky business. But there’s one choice we can make that will never fail us. This reward is bigger and better than we could dare to hope for (Ephesians 3:20), immediate and eternal. When we choose to believe in Jesus by faith, we are justified by His grace (Titus 3:7), and God becomes our portion. No inheritance or cake can ever beat that!


Where in your life do you feel like you’ve been left with inferior portion? Take some time to lift up your eyes and ‘look around.’ What is the Holy Spirit showing you?


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