By Kenny Bruce
Pastor emeritus, Leawood East Baptist Church, Cordova
Focal Passage: Genesis 13:5-11, 14-18
I. RELIEVED BY GOD (Ch. 13:5-9) Abram, in the flesh, could have said, “Lot, this land belongs to me because God has promised it to me.” Instead, he obviously turned to God, heard His voice, and heeded His counsel. Abram told Lot in verse 8, “Please, let there be no strife between you and me, … for we are brothers.” God had given Abram His plan to resolve the conflict. God did not want His chosen people arguing in the presence of ungodly Canaanites and Perizzites.
Nothing hinders our testimony more than to have a falling out with a brother in Christ over material things. Paul says in Phillippians. 2:14, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” Furthermore, Jesus prayed that Christians would be unified so the world would know that God sent Him (John 17:21).
II. RESTRAINED BY GOD (Genesis 13:9-11) Abram acted with divine restraint; Lot, with carnal resolve. Lot did not seek God when he chose the Jordan plain inhabited by Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot chose the land that reminded him of the Garden of Eden and Egypt, which biblically was symbolic of sin. He was taking God with one hand and the world with the other. Abram was restrained by God.
He sacrificially set aside his rights and gave Lot first choice of the land. His relationship with Lot was more important than anything the land could provide; therefore, he placed Lot’s needs ahead of his own. The stops, as well as the steps, of a good man are ordered by the Lord. Abram was protected by God from choosing the Jordan Valley. When an estate is divided among siblings, they should put harmony in their relationships with each other ahead of what they want from the estate. If they are restrained by God, like Abram, they will relinquish their rightful choices to their siblings. Above all else, we are all called to be peacemakers (Romans 12:18).
III. REASSURED BY GOD (Genesis 13:14-18) God told Abram to look in every direction then assured him that He would give him and his offspring all the land, even the land Lot had chosen. He further reassured him that his offspring would be numerous like the dust of the earth. Abram was led by God to the oaks of Mamre at Hebron. He built an altar to the Lord like he had done at Shechem and Bethel. He was continually worshiping the Lord because God was constantly repeating His promises. Our focusing on the promises of God keeps us in a constant attitude of worship and gives us victory when we experience conflict and tension with other believers.
In the midst of any conflict we must live by Romans 12:18: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Secondly, we should pray for wisdom from above which is “peaceable” (James 3:17). Finally, we are to place our confidence in God to give us the power to consider other people more important than ourselves and to put their interests before our own (Philippians 2:3-4). B&R