Family relationships have the potential of being “a foretaste of glory divine.” Such traits as love, patience, and humility are ingredients which help make possible healthy family relationships. Yet sometimes difficulties arise in the best of homes.
From Genesis 13 and 14:14-16, our attention will be focused on the relationship of Abraham and Lot. As chapter 13 begins, Abram, Sarai, and Lot travel out of the land of Egypt and journey back into the southern part of the land of Canaan. In verse 2, we have a picture of Abraham’s great wealth: “Now Abraham was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.” Lot, a nephew of Abraham, was also wealthy as he had flocks and herds and tents (v. 5). It is a reasonable conclusion that the possessions of Lot would have been the result of Abram’s generosity. In verse 6, the beginning point of the problems begin to surface: “Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together.”
Verse 7 records there was strife (“quarreling” – NIV) between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and Lot’s livestock. In the Annual Lesson Commentary, 1979 – 80, the author avers the reason for the quarreling was that the herdsmen of Abram and Lot were “trying to get advantage for the flocks and herds of their own master” (p. 244). The magnanimous spirit of Abram is emphasized in his recommendation to Lot: “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left” (vs. 8-9). Please notice how Abram emphasizes their relationship before he makes his recommendation: “For we are kinsmen” (v. 8). Ray Stedman commented regarding this statement, “That means we are tied together in the same bundle of life, and if I hurt you I am hurting myself. If you hurt me, you are hurting yourself” (www.raystedman.org/old-testament/genesis/letting-god-choose). Abram surely perceived that Lot’s heart had changed. The urgency of Abram making his recommendation is that he foresaw there was danger of a falling out between himself and his nephew.
The humility of Abram is emphasized in how that he gave Lot first choice regarding the land. After all, Abram was under no obligation to give Lot first choice. Abram’s beneficent attitude reflects the instructions of the apostle Paul to the Philippian Christians: “Do not nothing through rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3).
Lot’s choice reflected how his attitude was characterized by greed, selfishness, and ruthlessness. The closeness, love, and respect he had for Abram, his uncle, had been snuffed out of his heart. He chose all the Jordan Valley (v. 12). The reference to it being “like the garden of the Lord” is a reference to the garden of Eden. Thus the beauty of the Jordan Valley, which was well-watered like the garden of Eden, must have been exquisite. C.C. Crawford (Bible Study Textbook Series, Genesis – The Book of Beginnings, published by College Press, p. 98) quoting from the Jamieson, Fausset and Commentary, (Volume 1, p. 134) commented regarding Lot’s disposition and choice, “A choice excellent from a worldly point of view, but most inexpedient for his best interests. He seems, though a good man, to have been too much under the influence of a selfish and covetous spirit.”
It still should have been the case that Lot would have sought advice from Abram. Josh Romo well stated, “Lot neither deferred to Abram nor sought his advice on where he should go but rather trusted his own judgment guided by his eyes” (Studies in Genesis, The Denton-Schertz Commentaries, p. 173). Lot’s choice of the fertile Jordan Valley brought him close to Sodom. The results of Lot’s choice would be disastrous (Gen. 19).
Abram understood Lot’s weaknesses. Imagine the deep concern he had as Lot went to the land he had chosen. Abram knew Lot’s move would put him closer to Sodom. Instead of despising the seemingly selfish choice of Lot, Abram’s love for him did not diminish.
Chapter 14 records that Lot is taken captive by a confederation of four kings who occupy the Jordan Valley and overpower an alliance of five kings. Abram’s love for Lot has not abated. When he learns of what has happened to Lot, he puts together a fighting force of three hundred and eighteen trained men and sets out to Dan in the north. He is victorious near Damascus in Syria. Now he rescues Lot and all the spoils (vs. 13–16).
The following are some practical lessons we learn from the relationship of Abram and Lot:
- Peacefulness. While disagreements can occur between persons or groups of people, this does not mean that disagreements must be characterized by quarreling. As Christians, we must be willing to go “the extra mile” in maintaining peace (Rom. 12:18; Heb. 12:14).
- Humility. When one’s view of himself becomes inflated, humility will begin to vanish. The result is also negative (Eph. 4:2; Rom. 12:3).
- Love. Sometimes it can be difficult to maintain love toward another person. Yet the reminder from the apostle Paul helps us to refocus on the love for which we should strive (1 Cor. 13:4-7).
Bruce preaches for the Bellville Church of Christ in Bellville, TX.