Summary: Authentic relationships are enhanced when I yield my rights in order to prevent unnecessary fights

For the past several years, we’ve spent some time around Mother’s Day and Father’s Day to do some topical preaching on the family. And in a culture that is increasingly pressuring us to abandon what the Bible teaches about the family, that teaching is more needed than ever.

This year, I want to take a littler broader look at the whole spectrum of our relationships and develop four building blocks that are crucial in the process of developing authentic relationships. I am confident that we can take and apply what we learn to a wide range of relationships:

• Husband/wife

• Parents/children

• Grandparents/grandchildren

• Work relationships

• Relationships in the church

• Relationships in the community

Much of the time when we focus on what the Bible has to teach us about relationships, we tend to primarily use the New Testament. And that’s certainly appropriate since that is where we find much of the teaching that applies to all these relationships. But for the next four weeks, I’d like us to see how the Old Testament addresses the way we build authentic relationships as well. So during that time, we’re going to look at four different Old Testament accounts that illustrate the four building blocks we’ll be exploring. Obviously, there are far more than just four important building blocks for our relationships, but I am confident that if we’ll commit to apply what we’ll learn over the next four weeks, all of our relationships can become much more authentic and profitable.

So before we go any further this morning, I’m going to ask one of our elders – Don Gailey – to come and pray and ask God to help us apply what we will be learning.

[Don prays]

The first relationship that we’re going to look at might surprise you a bit. It is the relationship between Abram and his nephew Lot. If you’ll go ahead and turn to Genesis 13, you can follow along as I read that chapter. I’ll stop to give you some background and make a few comments as I read through the chapter and then we’ll see what principles that we can develop from the text.

[1] So Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb.

We’ll use the map on the screen to help you put this chapter into context. At the end of Genesis 11, we read that Terah, Abram’s father left his home in Ur and headed toward Canaan with his family, including Lot. They settled in the town of Haran, where Terah died. According to Genesis 12, God came to Abram while he was living there and called him to leave his father’s house and go to a land that God would show him. Abram immediately left Haran and took Lot and the rest of his family and his possessions with him.

When he entered Canaan, Abram stopped at the town of Shechem, where God appeared to him again. So Abram built an altar there. He then proceeded to Bethel, where he pitched his tent. He built another altar there and called upon the name of the Lord.

When a famine came upon the land, Abram went to Egypt, where he deceived Pharaoh by claiming that his wife, Sarai, was his sister. When Pharaoh was afflicted with great plagues he sent Abram and his family back to Canaan along with all their possessions. We’ll pick up the account in verse 2:

[2] Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. [3] And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, [4] to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the LORD.

Abram and Lot return to Bethel, along with their considerable flocks and silver and gold. Abram returns to the altar he had built earlier and calls on the name of the Lord.

We are now about to see the conflict was brewing between Abram’s herdsmen and Lot’s herdsmen. I’ll continue reading in verse 5:

[5] And Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, [6] so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together, [7] 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.

Here’s the problem. Abram and Lot both have large flocks and herds so that it was difficult for their flocks and herds to graze together on the same land. The problem was compounded by the fact that the Canaanites and Perizzites also occupied large portions of the land, which made it even more difficult to find adequate grazing land. Those issues had led to conflict between their herdsman which threatened to damage the relationship between Abram and Lot and their families. So Abram proposes a novel way for them to protect those relationships. I’ll continue reading in verse 8:

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