In Stephen Covey’s book, the 7 habits of highly successful people, one of the habits is to start with the end in mind. The idea is that if you know where you are trying to go then you have a much better chance of getting there. It also helps provide motivation for when times are rough.
Within the story of Abraham we see this in the way God deals with Abraham. God starts with the end. God will make Abraham’s descents into a great nation (Gen 12:1-3). This is Abraham’s legacy. This is the thing for which Abraham is striving. This promise is repeated to Abraham again (Gen 15:5) and again (Gen 17:5).
The first thing Abraham is asked to do is to go and leave everything behind. The next time Abraham is asked to do anything for God is not until the promise has been given three times. Then in Gen 17, Abraham is given the sign of the covenant (v9-10), circumcision, and the command to be blameless before God (v2).
God starts with the promise and then after proving himself starts to give the requirements and the expectations for following him.
It leaves me thinking about the way I approach evangelism or telling others about the gospel. Do I start with telling them about the particular things they are doing wrong? Or do I start with telling them about the great future that God has for them in the new earth? Do I start with the things God hates? Or do I start with how much he loves people and how much he has done for people and encouraging them to let God prove himself?