So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren.”
After the incident in Egypt, Abraham’s caravan left Egypt and moved back northeast to the land of Canaan. We are given this key description of Abraham’s caravan: “Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold” (Genesis 13:2).
Both Abraham and Lot had become so prosperous that they could not live side by side in the land of Canaan. We are told that “the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together” (verse 6). This was because the livestock and servants of Abraham and Lot were coming into conflict (verse 7). It became necessary for them to operate separately.
Abraham’s approach to dealing with this issue holds keys to helping us approach potential conflicts with other people.
Abraham’s first approach was to honestly deal with the problem. He said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren” (verse 8).
He then proposed a solution to the problem: “Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left” (verse 9).
The result was that Lot chose the best land (verses 10-12), while Abraham ended up with the land that was less desirable (verse 12).
Here are lessons we can learn from how Abraham handled this situation:
- Abraham’s first priority was peace. As the older person in the family and the one who had helped raise Lot, Abraham could have “pulled rank” on Lot and dealt with the issue in a manner that would have benefited his needs first. Instead, he dealt with the issue in a way that made peace between Lot and himself the priority. Jesus Christ taught that being a “peacemaker” (Matthew 5:9) is an essential characteristic of a true Christian. We are to “pursue peace with all people” (Hebrews 12:14).
- Abraham used gentle words to prevent an escalation of the issue. Abraham’s words to Lot were not harsh and confrontational. They were gentle and kind. He emphasized that they were family and that strife should not exist between family members, and he offered a solution that minimized the chance of the conflict escalating. Christians are expected to demonstrate gentleness and patience when dealing with other people (2 Timothy 2:24; Titus 3:2; Romans 12:18).
- Abraham was willing to take a loss for the sake of peace. Abraham’s solution to bring peace involved giving Lot first choice of where to settle. Lot, taking advantage of Abraham’s kindness, jumped at the opportunity to take the best land for himself. Abraham had to take the less fertile land because of his offer to maintain peace. One of the aspects of godly wisdom is being “willing to yield” (James 3:17). Sometimes it is necessary for us to take a personal loss—in other words, sacrifice—for the sake of having peace with others.
To learn more about the keys to healthy relationships with other people, read the articles in the “Relationships” section of the website.