For the Sake of Peace
How are you getting along with your brothers and sisters in your church or ministry? Sometimes, it is not easy to maintain the unity and love God wants us to have for each other.
This morning, I read the story of how Abraham and Lot separated because their herds and flocks had grown too large for the grazing land available. There are some important things we can learn from this story that will help us when another believer takes advantage of our love and kindness. Please read Genesis 13:5–17.
Abraham addressed the issue. Abraham did not pretend that everything was fine while there was ongoing strife between his and Lot’s herdsmen. He recognized that something had to be done to end the conflict. That’s why he took the initiative to talk to Lot, his nephew, about the problem.
Abraham’s main goal for finding a solution was to maintain peace between them. “Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers” (Genesis 13:8).
Abraham offered a solution: “Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me: if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left” (Genesis 13:9).
Abraham was God’s chosen servant, a respected leader, a powerful chief of his people and Lot’s uncle. As such, he had the full authority to tell Lot what to do and expect him to follow his orders without question.
However, Abraham’s love and desire to live in peace with his “brother” caused him to humble himself before Lot. Rather than giving him an order, Abraham twice, gently but urgently, appealed to Lot with a request. And when Abraham offered a solution to their problem, he took the risk of ending up with a bad deal.
Abraham left the choice of land to Lot, who shamelessly took advantage of his uncle’s generosity and chose all the best land for himself (see v. 10 and 11).
Didn’t Abraham see it coming? No doubt Abraham must have known Lot’s character. After all, the young man had lived with Abraham since his father, Haran (Abraham’s brother), died. Perhaps he hoped that Lot had learned and changed since he too believed in Abraham’s God, and Abraham wanted to give him a chance to succeed in life.
How did Abraham respond when he was exploited by his “brother”? He was silent when Lot took advantage of his love and generosity. Surely Abraham must have been disappointed, hurt and sad, yet he didn't complain to God, to his wife, Sarah, or to anyone else about Lot.
And he didn’t scold or slap his nephew for his utter selfishness, lack of respect and ungratefulness. Abraham easily could have gone back on his word and fairly divided the good and bad land between his nephew and himself, but he didn't. He chose rather to suffer loss and be considered foolish in order to maintain peace with his brother.
In addition, Abraham didn’t keep any bitterness in his heart toward Lot. Instead, he loved and cared for him enough to risk his own life and that of his men to rescue Lot when Lot was taken captive during a war. And he pleaded and bargained with God to spare Sodom on behalf of his nephew and his family.
Why did Abraham not fight for his rights? Abraham trusted God with all his heart. He believed that the God who called him and promised to give him all the land (which included the portion Lot took) would surely fulfill His word. He was not worried about his present disadvantage, Lot’s greediness or what he should do to get the fertile land back in his possession. He placed himself and his future into God’s mighty hand and left it up to Him to defend his rights and fulfill His promise at the right time. That’s faith!
God reconfirmed His promise to Abraham. Read Genesis 13:14–17. God was pleased with Abraham’s choice to humble himself and suffer loss in order to maintain peace—and to trust God to be his defender.
God encouraged Abraham by repeating and reconfirming his former promise: “For all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants . . .” And then God rewarded Abraham by adding a new promise: “forever” (Genesis 13:15). Even today, God still stands by this promise to Israel.
Choose to follow Abraham’s example! We too will encounter situations when other Christians take advantage of our love and kindness, even if we never make them a generous offer like Abraham. Perhaps you lend money to a needy sister in the church, but later on when she is doing well, she has no intention of paying it back. Or maybe your co-worker or team member takes credit for your good work and gets the recognition and reward you deserve.
If the fellow Christian who took advantage of your good heart is unwilling to change, you have only two choices:
1. You can fight for your rights by proving them wrong and force them to do the right thing, but you will end up with a broken relationship.
2. Or you can choose to suffer injustice, forgive them and entrust yourself to the Lord and thus maintain peace in the Body of Christ.
If you choose the second option, you are following Abraham’s example, and God’s blessing will surely rest on you. Don’t fear that your fellow believer got away with defrauding you. God will deal with him in His own time, for he too is His child and needs transformation of his character.
With love and prayers,
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