A friend of ours always used to say – ‘You have to be the head and not the tail.’ In dealings with others we are generally either the one leading the way, or else having to follow the orders. Watching the body language of a couple of politicians meeting up, and there are all sorts of intricacies in how they move, trying to be the one controlling the situation.
In Genesis 14 v 17 and v 21-24 we see a bit of ‘one-upmanship’ going on. The king of Sodom is desperately trying to hold on to his dignity and authority, by allowing Abram to keep hold of the wealth he has taken back. He has been present during the interlude with Melchizedech, when Abram has been honoured and blessed; and after such an amazing victory, Sodom is left in no doubt as to the potential capability of the man before him. The offer to give Abram rights to the wealth subtly shifts the power back to himself.
Abram is no fool. He has seen only too well the danger of liaising with these evil cities. To accept the wealth would make his subject to them, and the connection would make him vulnerable.
In our association with others, particularly in the work place, we have to be the head and not the tail. Giving over and above what is required strangely enough puts you in a position of power. Taking a few extra perks can sometimes compromise your situation. If you want to maintain your credibility as a good witness for Christ, you sometimes do have to go the extra mile. This isn’t just a matter of power wrangling, but of integrity and gaining a right to be heard; and they take a lot of effort to build up and maintain, but can be swiftly shattered. Best be quick to give, but think twice before receiving!