Summary: Abram’s leadership manifests itself in his ability to resolve conflict. Lot’s character (and downward spiral) is revealed in the choice he makes for himself and his family. We can choose to yield our rights when we’re secure in knowing that God will tak
“Conflict and Choices” Genesis 13:5-18 Pastor Bob Leroe, Cliftondale Congregational Church, Saugus, Massachusetts
People can be difficult! They’re often unreasonable, stubborn, and self-centered. Working with people presents thorny challenges. We all want to get along, but personality differences can hinder harmony; conflicting priorities can get in the way. Abram was no stranger to conflict, but in dealing with his nephew Lot, he shows that interpersonal issues can be resolved. Abram’s leadership manifests itself in his ability to resolve conflict. Lot’s character is revealed in the choice he makes for himself and his family.
This is the first time that wealth is mentioned in the Bible, and it causes a problem. Material affluence is not always a blessing. Abram was a wealthy man, and prosperity also visited his nephew Lot. Their herds had grown to the point of becoming unmanageable upon the land they commonly shared. How much family unrest is caused by disputes over money and possessions? Their problem and parting would not have been necessary had Abram not ventured to Egypt, out of the will of God. Their increased livestock came from Pharaoh, and from Abram’s scheming. While there’s no indication of antagonism between Abram and Lot, a germ of tension was growing among their herdsmen. Something had to be done to resolve the developing discord.
Abram takes the initiative; he doesn’t wait for the situation to worsen. A true peacemaker, he generously allows Lot to choose where to relocate his livestock. Abram’s proposal shows true magnanimity; as the tribal patriarch, head of the clan, he could have insisted on his rights. The land was his. He had the right to decide the issue and tell Lot what to do. Sometimes we get hung up on our rights; we feel indignant when we don’t get what we think we deserve. We may even become unpleasant and overbearing in our effort to get what is rightfully ours. People who become embroiled in struggles over power and control transform into very unpleasant individuals. Rather than seek to resolve conflict, and bring about a peaceful resolution, they only focus on winning. It may be beneficial to surrender our rights. Otherwise we may gain the world but lose our souls.
Tension was mounting between Abram and Lot, amid the heathen Canaanites, who were watching and listening. How do you handle disagreements? Do you negotiate, fight-to- win, give-in, resist, or avoid conflict altogether? At a recent Gordon College chamber music concert, a husband-wife piano/cello duo showed that they did more than make beautiful music together. They had learned to resolve differences. In a question & answer time after the performance, someone asked how they handled their conflict. The husband stated, “Disagreements are helpful; they enable us to consider different ways of trying things.” That’s admirable, because many people don’t care to consider alternative courses of action.
Every day we are faced with choices, and some may have far-reaching outcomes. As we make decisions, we need to ask ourselves 3 important questions: How will my decision affect me, others, and the reputation of my faith? We do not face ethical dilemmas alone; we have the word of God, the counsel of fellow believers, and the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide us in making the right choices. We may face tough decisions but we’re never alone or in the dark.