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Summary: An Expository Sermon from Genesis 21:22-31 concerning handling conflict and bulding better relationships. Genesis Series #44

Illustration: I can give you a personal application of this principle. As you know we are considering affiliating with Calvary Chapel. Now there is another Calvary Chapel located 10 mi. away in Port Saint Lucie. The Pastor there is Logan Dalton and we’ve been meeting and have a growing friendship. Now recently we have had some people start attending New Life in Christ who were attending Pastor Logan’s church because we are located closer to them. Pastor Logan is a very humble, kind, and cooperative person and probably has no problem with this but I do see the potential for conflict. Therefore I am going to meet with Pastor Logan, acknowledge what is happening, and come to an understanding so that we can avoid any future problems. Why do this when no problem currently exist? Because it is one of the principles of building better relationships

Principal #1: Be Proactive In Avoiding Future Conflicts

This is true when dealing with neighbors, employers, or anyone else. It is much easier to avoid problems than it is to solve them later. In the same way that it is easier to use sunscreen now that it is to treat skin cancer later.

Read Verses 23-24

Here Abimelech along with Phicol (Chief of Staff) seek to enter into a covenant relationship with Abraham. This was the typical way in ancient times that people and nations avoided conflict. He asked Abraham for such an agreement which is not unusual but he also adds one unusual phrase to the wording of the agreement when he says, "Swear... that you will not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants."

Why would Abimelech use this phrase? Past Experience! Abraham’s deceitfulness about Sarah’s relationship to him had caused problems in the past and Abimelech recognizes that dishonesty can be a source of conflict in the future. This leads us to principle #2 of building better relationships.

Principle # 2: Deal Honestly With Others

It is amazing how many conflicts are caused or magnified by simple dishonesty. This is a common theme in Genesis, especially in the story of how Jacob’s dishonesty led to conflict Esau and how Laban’s dishonesty led to conflict with Jacob. In Ephesians 4:25 (quickview)  we are told to “put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor...” The context of this Scripture passage deals with unity so it again is showing us how dishonesty spoils positive relationships. Abimelech could never have a positive relationship with Abraham until he was sure he could trust him. This could only happen if Abraham was honest from this point forward.

Principle # 2: Deal Honestly With Others

In practice this means being honest but kind about our feelings, situations, likes and dislikes, etc. In addition to his request for honesty from Abraham, Abimelech reminds Abraham of the kindness that he had shown to him even though he was "living as an alien" in the land. In essence he is saying, "When I had the upper hand I did not take advantage of your situation so you should do the same for me." Your acts of kindness in the past can be very rewarding in the future.

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