God is generous. He is very generous. Far more generous than we could ever deserve. This simple concept leaps off the page when you turn to Genesis 15.
“After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:
“Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward.” (verse 1)
I love the wording of this message. God does not promise Abram a reward, nor even a great reward. He promises him a ‘very great reward’. God is at pains here to convey His generosity in such a way that cannot possibly be mistaken. God is not miserly, nor grudging in His giving.
It’s interesting too how God doesn’t focus on any specific gift but on Himself – God Himself is Abram’s reward. A greater reward is not possible. To have a relationship with God is the greatest gift of all. Abram had a closer relationship with God than any who had gone before him: Adam, Enoch, Noah – none of them heard words so wonderful from God. What God gave Abram was a relationship with Himself that would set the tone for the rest of the Bible.
And the idea of God giving Himself to us finds its ultimate expression in the life and death of Jesus Christ. That’s why Paul wrote:
“He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).
Jesus is the ultimate gift, the best kind of reward. And since in Christ God has given us His very best, he also gives us ‘all things’. You could have everything else, but without Jesus it wouldn’t be enough; but with Jesus, the rest comes as part of the package. This is the superlative generosity of our God.
Why Abram? Not because he was perfect – the stories of Lot and Ishmael show us that he was anything but. Not because he was good – this was a gift that couldn’t be earned. Abram was chosen because he was chosen. It’s what theology terms the ‘doctrine of election’ – God chooses anyone He wants, a relationship initiated by God and accessed by the faith of the person chosen. You might wonder where free will comes into this, but remember that Abram chose to follow God a few chapters before, and in this chapter he chooses to respond in faith to these amazing words of God. He could have decided otherwise, to dismiss this vision as just a weird dream.
God chose, and Abram accepted. God acts with grace; Abram decides in faith. There’s room for both, but it always begins with God. While this vision and these words were specifically for Abram, the moral is the same for all of us. God wants a relationship with all of us, and for all who are willing to receive it, He is holding out the most generous reward in the universe. He’s offering it to you – have you accepted?