So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. Genesis 13:1
So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.” Genesis 13:8-9
Abram had been discovered as a liar in Egypt, in regards to his true relationship with Sarai. After Pharoah became aware that the two were married, rather than siblings, he forced them out. Abram took Sarai, his belongings, and Lot with him. Abram had become very wealthy during his time in Egypt. (Thanks to Sarai) We are told that Lot had gained many riches as well. With both men having had livestock that needed a fair amount of land, problems ensued. After a time, disputes arose between the two men’s herdsmen.
Abraham saw the potential for bad blood with his nephew, so he suggested that they part ways. He figured there was enough land to satisfy them both, and gave Lot first choice. In whichever direction Lot chose to travel, Abram would go the opposite. Lot set out toward the east and the plains near the Jordan, which were well watered. His tent was pitched near Sodom. Abram lived in the land of Canaan.
The Lord then told Abram to look around him – North, South, East, and West. He promised that the land, as far as Abram could see, would be given to him and his offspring. Further, Abram was promised that his offspring would be like the dust of the Earth, or too many to count. Abram’s tent was moved to Hebron, where he set up an altar to God in thanks.
This is the story of two men who develop conflict. This is the first description, in the scriptures, of how such conflict (man versus man) is to be handled.
Respectfully nip conflicts in the bud…Abram saw conflict approaching. Though it had not yet arrived, he sought to end it before it began. He went to Lot and, respectfully, expressed his concerns. He then stated that perhaps it would be best if they parted company. In that way, each of them would have what they required and the relationship would remain intact. (How many men, Christian or otherwise, would do that today? I suspect very few.)
Walk by faith, not by sight…Lot chose the east, the land of the plains of Jordan. He chose the area because of the water and proximity to Sodom. It mattered not that he left his uncle the land that was dry. It mattered not that Sodom was well-known for its wickedness. He sought to increase his wealth, and his selection would have given him such an opportunity. Lot was not described as a wicked man, himself. We do get the impression that he was willing to abide with and suffer others sinful deeds if he would profit. Abram showed no discontent with being left the drier land. He did not heckle or bargain. He accepted Lot’s choice, as he said he would. He had to have known that he, too, could gain more wealth in the land Lot had chosen. Yet, he had faith that God would see to the needs of he and his family. (If you are anything like me, you know many more Lots than you do Abrams. Good men put up with all manner of evil in search of the almighty dollar.)
Have confidence in God’s promises…After Lot had left, God promised that all the land surrounding Abram would belong to him and his offspring. Abram and Sarai were an older couple, with no children. It would have been easy to laugh at the idea that he would have innumerable offspring, especially at his age. But, what did he do? He believed. He had every confidence that God would keep every promise made. He established his altar, and gave thanks. He expressed joy and gratitude for things that had yet to happen. (And are there any men who would have this type of faith? Let me know when you stop laughing.)
Finally, keep in mind that today is the day of Pentecost. In the Old Testament, Jews knew this as the Feast of Weeks. (A sacred day when no work is to be done. It is a day to express gratitude for the abundant wheat harvest.) Christians know this to be the day the Holy Spirit filled the bodies of over one hundred men and women after Christ’s death. The Holy Spirit gave them knowledge and confidence to spread the Good News of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. In essence, it was the beginning of the church. The goal of the church was, and is, to add to the dust, or offspring, promised to Abram.
Being referred to as a child of Abraham (Abram) is a compliment to most Christians. Abram is the father of the Hebrews who would be given land that we now know as Israel. This man originally came from a town that worshipped pagan idols. What reason did he have to leave his father’s house and religion? What reason did he have to leave all that he knew? There was none but faith. He was not perfect, by any means. (See previous blog) He made mistakes, but he believed. He accepted the spirit of God, as disciples would years later, and followed where it led.
Isn’t that what we are supposed to do? Aren’t we supposed to take the “word of God written on our hearts” and do something with it? How often do Christians follow the Spirit’s lead? How much more frequently do they expect the Spirit to follow theirs?
Too many times, we seek fault in others because we enjoy conflict. We are selfish and greedy. As long as there is something in it for us, we accept hatred and wickedness. We are self-righteous and expect to have our way. When that doesn’t happen, we feel persecuted.
Is that where the Spirit leads you? Because the spirit inside me leads me to come up with compromises that benefit everyone, avoiding conflict wherever possible. It leads me away from greed. It gives me the courage to stand up to those who would place profit over people. It strengthens my faith to know I am not who I was. I am confident that I can encourage and support others, because I feel encouraged and supported.
The spirit inside me, the spirit of love, demands to be given away. I obey and give it to as many as I can. Because it was given to me.