Summary: Genesis verse-by-verse

Genesis 23

Last week we saw Abram go through this phase of doubting the Lord. Remember how he took matters into his own hands when it came to dealing with the famine in the land God had promised him and about how the Egyptians would treat him when they found out Sarah was his wife. Instead of trusting God to take care of all his needs, he doubted God would do that, took matters into his own hands, and reaped some serious consequences for it.

- Publicly humiliated

- Exiled from Egypt

- Possible rift in marriage

- Ended up right back where he started

But when he did end up right back where he started it brought him back to reality. So he went back to the place where his faith was on fire and worshipped the Lord there. Abram’s phase of doubt was over and his faith was restored.

And it’s a good thing because his faith was about to be tested. Tested by his own nephew Lot. As a matter of fact, this test was just as much a test for Lot as it was for Abram. Who would pass and who would fail? The answer to that lies in how each one would react to the test before them. One acted selfishly and the other acted selflessly.

And you know what? Selfishness and selflessness are one of faith’s thermometers. At the bottom of a thermometer where cold temperatures are displayed a lack of faith is there. Cold, untrusting and looking down at the earth. At the top of a thermometer where hot temperatures are displayed a strong faith is there. Warm, trusting and looking up to Heaven. Where would Abram and Lot register on the scale?

Well, we’ll soon see. And what a better way to find out than through a family conflict. You know those kinds of things can really put our faith, or lack thereof, on full display. And far too often family conflict become family division. But you know what, conflict is an opportunity for faith. And that’s the first thing we’re going to see here.

I. Conflict is an opportunity for faith.

[Read Genesis 13:5-7.]

So here they are in the land of Canaan and have got too much stuff. Their business is just going too good! They’ve got so many livestock and workers and things that the land they’re in just can’t sustain them both.

Now remember, it also says that the Canaanites and the Perizzites were dwelling in the land long before they got there. Most probably they were taking up the most prime areas. So what land was available wasn’t enough for both of their booming businesses.

Now you’d think this would be a good thing. You’d think that they’d all be happy and trying to figure out how they could make it continue to work and get even bigger. But somehow a strife arose and started to divide the families even down to the workers.

How does this happen? How can things be going so good and yet it just isn’t good enough for some people? I mean, work it out! Look how the Lord’s blessing! Recognize that and simply work it out! But some people are so blinded by self-centeredness that they don’t see what God’s doing. All they see is their own little world so they stir things up.

[Youth group growing, cigarette buts in parking lot story.]

You see when conflict comes, when differences comes, you can tell a person of faith from a person without by the way they react to the strife. And often selflessness is an expression of faith.

II. Selflessness is an expression of faith.

[Read Genesis 13:8-9.]

What an incredible act of faith on the part of Abram. He had obviously become aware of the crowding problems in their area and of the strife that had arisen between the families. But in the midst of the conflict Abram’s faith shines through. Now, let’s consider a couple of things before we go any further.

Abram had every right to lay down the law and decide what would happen here.

- Abram was Lots’ uncle, the eldest in the family

- Abram was the patriarch or the head of their entire family

- Abram had received the covenant for the land directly from God

But for the sake of the family Abram generously and graciously let’s Lot decide where he

wants to live. Abram in turn would take whatever land was leftover. This selfless act shows that Abram had returned from Egypt with a renewed faith that displayed itself in his selflessness.

Remember this is the one who didn’t want to deal with the famine in the land the Lord had given him, so he selfishly left and went to Egypt.

Remember this is the one who selfishly considered his life more important than the life of his wife allowing her to go into Pharaoh’s harem.

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