Read Genesis 13:1–13.
In the book of Romans, Paul writes, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (12:18). There is something of this ethic in Abram’s spirit way back in Genesis when he offered his nephew Lot his choice of grazing land (Genesis 13:8–9). God had abundantly blessed the two men—so much so that their herdsmen kept bumping into one another as they sought fresh grass for the animals to eat. If their flocks were going to continue to grow, something had to change.
Rather than fight over the best land, Abram simply gave Lot his pick. Lot seized upon his uncle’s kindness, and took the best spot—in the Jordan Valley. But in the long run, the “best” spot turned out to be nothing of the sort; Lot pitched his tents near Sodom, where the people were “wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord” (Genesis 13:13). Soon after, Lot became so accustomed to the sin of his neighbors that he no longer felt the need to live a step removed from their perversion. He moved his family’s home within the city walls (see Genesis 19).
I think it’s telling that just before this conflict, the Bible tells us that “Abram called on the name of the Lord” (Genesis 13:4). But when this grazing land dispute came up, neither Abram nor Lot sought God’s opinion. If only one of them had, God might have told them to stay clear of Sodom. In the end, Lot and his daughters escaped the judgment of that city with nothing but the clothes on their backs (19:17). And Lot’s bride—she wasn’t so lucky. She became a pillar of salt (19:26), becoming immortalized in our day in the tackiest of salt-and-pepper-shaker sets.
As we seek to resolve conflicts in life, it is important that we always use discernment and proceed with kindness. But nothing is as important as asking Jesus for help when we come to a crossroads. He sees down both paths, and He is the only one who is able to bring lasting peace.
“One of the most arduous spiritual tasks is that of giving up control and allowing the Spirit of God to lead our lives.”Henri Nouwen