Family conflicts are a fact of life. Our first experience with them usually occurs when we are young and involves our siblings or friends. These conflicts are often short-lived, intense and disrupting for anyone who is within hearing distance. As we grow up and begin families of our own, conflicts may involve a spouse or refereeing disputes with our own children. The older we get, the potential for the conflicts to last longer and intensify grows because there is an intense desire to be right or have our own way. It becomes hard to forgive and forget.
If family conflicts are not resolved, many times they may cause a wound that festers and makes the family dysfunctional or tears them apart. It is hard for us to submit to another person and to admit we were wrong or out of line. Our pride is an immovable wall that we can’t get passed.
Sometimes we see a conflict on the horizon, and we are faced with two choices – to either ignore it until it erupts or to stop it before it starts. It takes courage to address a conflict head on before it starts. It requires us to find possible resolutions that everyone involved can live with.
A prime example of this is when Abram stepped up to act before a conflict could cause a problem in his family. Both he and Lot were related – Abram was Lot’s uncle and probably had taken the place of his dead father. They became very wealthy men. Their wealth was in livestock, servants and tents which were past overflowing as they shared land in Bethel and Al. Their herdsmen had begun fighting over resources.
Abram became aware of this issue and was proactive. He went to Lot and said that that he did not want any conflict with Lot over their herdsmen fighting with one another because they were family. He suggested that they go their separate ways so both families and servants could live in peace.
Lot agreed. Abram gave Lot first choice of the land and said whichever direction Lot decided to move to, Abram would settle in the opposite one. Lot chose the Jordan Valley and moved on. Abram went in the opposite direction to Canaan. Abram’s goal was for the conflict to end and Lot to be happy.
Abram’s selflessness and love for Lot reveals the heart of a peacemaker. Abram saw the conflict brewing and took charge of the situation. He didn’t wait until the issue spilled over and caused problems between he and Lot. Their relationship took precedence over anything Abram may have wanted.
Abram also showed great faith in God when gave Lot first choice on where he would live. Even if Lot chose the direction Abram was partial to, Abram would take the other and stand on God’s promise of blessing. Abram knew that God would honor his promise no matter where he lived. His faith in God gave him the strength to be a peacemaker.
After Lot left, God took Abram aside and told him to look around him. God said all that he saw now belonged to him and his many descendants which if numbered would be like counting grains of sand. He encouraged Abram to explore the land he’d been given. Abram moved his camp to Hebron where he built an alter and worshiped God.
When there is conflict, we show Jesus to others when we put aside our own pride and show love and concern for the other person or persons. That means we find a resolution for that conflict which works, even if it personally costs us something. Taking on the role of peacemaker pleases God and He will bless us for it.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9