Summary: In order to heal broken relationships, give to the relationship; don’t take from it and get all you need and more from God Himself.
Pastor Van Morris, from Mt. Washington, Kentucky, tells the story of a married couple, who had a fight and ended up giving each other the silent treatment. A week into their uneasy silence, the man realized he needed his wife's help. In order to catch a flight to Chicago for a business meeting, he had to get up at 5 a.m.
However, he did not want to be the first to break the silence, so he wrote on a piece of paper, “Please wake me at 5 a.m.”
The next morning the man woke up only to discover his wife was already out of bed, it was 9 a.m., and his flight had long since departed. He was about to find his wife and give her the “what for” when he noticed a piece of paper by the bed.
He read, "It's 5 a.m. Wake up." (Van Morris, Mt. Washington, Kentucky; www.PreachingToday.com)
Life is full of conflicts, and people handle them in many strange ways. But how do people of faith resolve their differences with people? How do men and women who depend on the Lord handle the conflicts that arise in their relationships? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Genesis 13, Genesis 13, where we see how Abram, a man of faith, resolved a conflict he had with his nephew, Lot.
Genesis 13:5-7 And Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together, and there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were dwelling in the land. (ESV)
In fact, it was their land, and you can be sure that they occupied the best part of the land. That left Abram and Lot to scrap for whatever was left.
Now, Abram and Lot had acquired a lot of sheep and cattle in Egypt. But when they got back to the land God had given them, it could not sustain them all. Their resources were limited, so there was strife. They fought for every scrap of pastureland, and things got ugly.
Genesis 13:8-9 Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” (ESV)
In essence, Abram gives Lot the best part of the land. By faith, Abram doesn’t take what is rightfully his. Instead, he gives it away. You see, all of the land belonged to Abram. God promised it to him, not to Lot. Besides, Abram was Lot’s guardian, Lot’s elder, Lot’s superior. Abram, by rights, could have kept it all, and let Lot find his own pastureland somewhere else. Instead, by faith, Abram gives to Lot the best he has, and that’s what we must do, if we’re going to resolve our differences with people. We must…
GIVE TO THE RELATIONSHIP.
We must give our best without expecting anything in return. We must give sacrificially, even if it means we are left with the scraps.
Leonard Sweet, in his book, Out of the Question, into the Mystery, talks about the time when he was the keynote speaker at a leadership conference at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. The university chaplain, Tom Wiles, picked Sweet up in his new Ford pickup truck, and immediately the two bonded. Leonard Sweet was still mourning the trade-in of his Dodge truck. They shared truck stories and laughed at the bumper sticker, “Nothing is more beautiful than a man and his truck.”
As Leonard climbed into Tom’s 2002 Ranger for the ride back to the airport a day later, he noticed two big scrapes by the passenger door. “What happened here?” Leonard asked.
With a downcast voice, Tom replied, “My neighbor's basketball post fell and left those dents and white scars.”
“You're kidding! How awful,” Leonard commiserated. “This truck is so new I can smell it.”
“What's even worse,” Tom responded, “is my neighbor doesn't feel responsible for the damage.”
Leonard rose to his newfound friend's defense and said, “Did you contact your insurance company? How are you going to get him to pay for it?”
Tom replied, “This has been a real spiritual journey for me.” After a lot of soul-searching and discussions with my wife about hiring an attorney, it came down to this: I can either be in the right, or I can be in a relationship with my neighbor. Since my neighbor will probably be with me longer than this truck, I decided that I'd rather be in a relationship than be right. Besides, trucks are meant to be banged up, so I got mine initiated into the real world a bit earlier than I expected.” (Leonard Sweet, Out of the Question...Into the Mystery, Waterbrook Press, 2004, p. 91-92)