In the last devotional, I talked about the fact that there are battles to fight and battles to let go of because at the end of the day, it is not a case of having conflict, but how we handle conflict.
God’s word contains many opportunities and many solutions for resolving conflict. One such place is in Genesis 13:1-18. In this passage of Scripture, we see a conflict brewing between two family units: Abram (Abraham), and Lot, who is Abraham’s nephew. The conflict concerned the right to land use. It seems the shepherds working for Abraham and Lot were arguing over whose flocks should have precedence when it came to grazing.
Abram, being more interested in having a relationship with his nephew, suggested that they separate and that Lot take his choice of the land. Abram considered Lot before he considered himself. Some would call that commendable, while others would suggest that was not a wise decision, because the other party could easily take advantage of him.
This passage of scripture gives us several tips on how to resolve our relational conflicts. One is maturity. Immaturity in a relationship will cause conflict rather than solve it. In this story, Abram said, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me.” These words are a picture of maturity and what maturity should produce in a believer. Humility arises in the heart of a Christ follower and asks: What is God’s way of solving this? What is the MOST important thing here? What is the greater answer to this conflict?
Second tip. Who wins in this story? Some would say Lot because he was given first choice of land. Sometimes the best option is to put aside our interests and allow the other person to have his/her way. Yes, it is natural to hold out for what we want. When conflict occurs, even when trying to preserve relationships, we tend to think, “If I don’t look after my own interest, who will?” Compromise can be an option. In fact, when we consider the interest of others, we can receive the greater benefit. Abram considered Lot before himself and, as a result, received the greater blessing. Abram let Lot have first choice of which land should be his. God was pleased with Abram’s unselfish choice and told him all of that land would someday belong to his descendants. In contrast, Lot’s selfish choice meant that he moved near the wicked city of Sodom.
The third tip is having faith. In the Bible’s hall of fame in Hebrews 11, candid pictures are given of great men whose faith stands out in Old Testament history. Most are descendants of Abraham. Hebrews 11:8 says, “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” Faith in God means that Abram didn’t need to worry about who won and who lost, or whether his ox was getting gored. He left it to God because of his faith.
So can we.
1. Why were Abram’s and Lot’s herdsmen quarreling? Who chose first?
2. Did Lot make the best choice? If you didn’t know the outcome, would you choose as Lot did? Why or why not?
3. Genesis 15:1:” After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” Genesis 22:17 says,”I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies.” Would holding onto God’s promises make a difference in how we handle conflicts? Why or why not?
4. What does it mean to live by faith? How does this affect our relationships?
5. How do you live in faith? So often, we live as if faith means bringing God into our little story when it’s convenient to do so. How do we elevate our faith?