Genesis – First, God.
I had a dear friend and mentor mom who told me how she taught her two growing boys to divide and share. She would give one boy the choice to divide the cookie, brownie or candy bar. The other boy got first choice as to which half he got. Brilliant, right?
As a person of God’s Word, she was following the example of Abram to problem solve. Read how Abram solved the problem of family quarrels of what is mine and what is yours with a “caring is sharing” example.
Can you tell which man walks with God?
Genesis 13, The Message
So Abram left Egypt and went back to the Negev, he and his wife and everything he owned, and Lot still with him. By now Abram was very rich, loaded with cattle and silver and gold.
3-4 He moved on from the Negev, camping along the way, to Bethel, the place he had first set up his tent between Bethel and Ai and built his first altar. Abram prayed there to God.
5-7 Lot, who was traveling with Abram, was also rich in sheep and cattle and tents. But the land couldn’t support both of them; they had too many possessions. They couldn’t both live there—quarrels broke out between Abram’s shepherds and Lot’s shepherds. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living on the land at the time.
8-9 Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have fighting between us, between your shepherds and my shepherds. After all, we’re family. Look around. Isn’t there plenty of land out there? Let’s separate. If you go left, I’ll go right; if you go right, I’ll go left.”
10-11 Lot looked. He saw the whole plain of the Jordan spread out, well watered (this was before God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah), like God’s garden, like Egypt, and stretching all the way to Zoar. Lot took the whole plain of the Jordan. Lot set out to the east.
11-12 That’s how they came to part company, uncle and nephew. Abram settled in Canaan; Lot settled in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent near Sodom.
13 The people of Sodom were evil—flagrant sinners against God.
14-17 After Lot separated from him, God said to Abram, “Open your eyes, look around. Look north, south, east, and west. Everything you see, the whole land spread out before you, I will give to you and your children forever. I’ll make your descendants like dust—counting your descendants will be as impossible as counting the dust of the Earth. So—on your feet, get moving! Walk through the country, its length and breadth; I’m giving it all to you.”
18 Abram moved his tent. He went and settled by the Oaks of Mamre in Hebron. There he built an altar to God.
GOING DEEPER — There’s more to the story…
I wonder how many family fights have been caused by the love of money. The newspapers often publish reports about families battling in court because of an inheritance or a lottery winning. People who used to love each other and enjoy each other start attacking each other just to get money, but money cannot buy the blessings that families freely give.
Abraham may have failed the first two tests, but he passed this third test with great success. The test was not an easy one, for it involved land and wealth, but Abraham is the example of what every believer should do when there are disputes about material things.
Abraham determined to be a peacemaker and not a troublemaker. The problem between Abraham and Lot was not caused by the land, the famine, their wealth (both of them were rich), or even their herdsmen. The heart of every problem is the problem in the heart. Lot’s heart was centered on wealth and worldly achievement, while Abraham wanted only to please the Lord.
It was bad enough that this dispute was between brethren (Gen. 13:8), but even worse, the heathen people of the land were watching and listening (v. 7). When Christians have disputes, it hurts the testimony of the Lord. In pastoral ministry, you discover that the unsaved relatives and friends of church members you are seeking to interest in spiritual things, that they knew about every “church fight” in town.
No wonder our Lord prayed that His people might be one, that the world might believe (John 17:20-23). Christian unity is fragrant and fruitful (Ps. 133), but disunity turns that fragrance into a stench and the garden into a desert. It’s hard for the world to get past the smell of disjointed parts demanding their own way.
James 3:13–4:10 explains why Lot was a troublemaker instead of a peacemaker: He had “heart trouble.” He followed the wisdom of this world (as Uncle Abraham had done in Egypt) and not God’s wisdom. He was at war with Abraham because he was at war with himself, and he was at war with himself because he was at war with God. The world’s wisdom and the world’s wealth seem so satisfying, but they ultimately bring disappointment.
Abraham lived for others, not for self. While in Egypt, Abraham thought first about himself (Gen. 12:12-13), but when he returned to his altar in Canaan, he put God first and others next.
Abraham had every right to decide the issue and tell Lot what to do, but he gave Lot first choice.
“Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love, in honor preferring one another” (Rom. 12:10). The spiritual Christian does not insist on his or her own rights but gladly yields to others.
How yielding are we at home with family, at work among coworkers, in God’s church among our brothers and sisters in Christ?
Abraham lived by faith, not by sight. No matter what Lot did, Abraham was not worried about his future, for he knew that everything was in the hands of the Lord. Abraham had never read Psalm 47:4 or Matthew 6:33, but he was putting both into practice by faith. He had met God at the altar and he knew that everything was under control. When God is first in your life, it makes no difference who is second or last.
It also makes no difference among mere men and women who gets the credit for successful work well done. Only God. God first. God last. God in between. To God be the glory, honor and praise!
How great you are! How great are your stories of extreme examples of how to live this life here! Thank you for your Word. Thank you for who you are to us. Thank you for understandable lessons of faith and following you. Help us today, by your power in us, to hear you and to do what you say as we walk ever closer to You.
In Jesus Name, Amen