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How to Disagree: Genesis 13.1-18

Moms teach us so many things.  Our mom is our first teacher.  She taught us how to use a spoon and drink from a cup.   Moms settle disagreements for us and help us get along with others. A way we can honor our mothers is to do the things they taught us to do.  Abram was able to disagree with his nephew and followed what his mother taught him.  Abram had disagreements.  Lot went with Abram and as they went together they ran into major disagreements.  This passage shows us how we can disagree with people in a Godly manner.  Maybe you’re struggling with how to get along with someone.  Here on Mother’s Day how can we honor our mom in these circumstances?  We begin with a place of worship.

Prepare your heart through worship.

                    4to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the LORD.

Abram returned to this place of worship.  This sets the stage to settle a disagreement.  The first call God issues to us is to come back to Him.  Sometimes we can be confused about why we disagree.  We need to have time to check ourselves.  We need to ask, “How’s my heart?”  How is your heart today?  We have been going through a lot recently.  There’s a lot in the news.  We are trying to make sense of everything.  Would you pause and ask God to care for your soul?  Abram did this in verse 4.  Abram returned to the place we looked at last week, in Shechem.  He took his heart and his spirit there.  The places we have experienced God are meaningful to us.  We remember when God spoke to us.  We have a need in our heart to be settled.  One point from verse 4 is we have a lot of things we turn to in disagreements.  We should worship and not go other ways before we engage with another person about a disagreement.  Abram was very wealthy.  Sometimes we try to fix our problems with our wealth.  In Genesis we see this happening for the second time in Abram’s life.  Abram makes many mistakes.  In chapter 12 he just made one.  His anger takes him back to God.

Carefully consider the challenges.

Abram considers the challenge and asks, “What’s this really about?”  We can get confused on what we are really upset about.

                    6so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together,

What’s happened is their closeness is leading to fights.  They are getting in each other’s way.  Maybe you’re experiencing some of this at home now?  We are in closer contact with one another.  Even though we love the people we are around they can get in our way.  That’s what’s happening in this story.  They are too successful!  God is blessing them financially.  Their abundance causes problems.  This can happen to us in lots of ways.  Kids, like when you’re playing a game on your XBOX or ipad you might get into disagreements with your siblings.  Mom says she is going to take it away from both of you.  She will tell you when she was a kid all she had to play with were sticks.  The abundance we have can lead to disagreements.  God has been good to us.  Jacob runs into this in Genesis 30.  God’s blessing can lead to a challenge.

Find common ground.

                    8Then Abram said to Lot, "Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen.

They are literally trying to find common ground.  There’s always something you have in common with someone even if you disagree with them.  Here is verse 8 Abram is being a peacemaker.  Peace doesn’t’ come automatically.  Abram has worshiped to be sure he is dealing with the right issue.  “We are kinsmen,” he says.  Kinsmen means “brothers.”  Abram is actually his uncle, so what he is saying is, “we are family.”  It’s not good to disagree.  Notice how he does this.  Abram and Lot have a lot in common: the same God, they’re both believers, the same career, the same work.  They have lots in common.  It helps to look at another person and see what you have in common with them. Sometimes as believers we are using the same resources and we all want God’s family to grow. We are thankful for the tremendous impact you are having in our community.  Sometimes as we go along we bump into each other.  We are believers and we belong to Christ.  We are called to make disciples.  We have a lot in common.  Maybe your disagreement isn’t with another believer.  Maybe what you have in common with that person is that you both love North Carolina.  You both love Asheboro, our community.  Maybe you both love baseball.  You may root for different teams but you both love the sport.  Find common ground because it can be a foundation for how we can bring peace.

See the possibilities.

            9Is 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."

Abram has Lot view the land.  To settle a disagreement you have to see other possibilities and other solutions.  See the grace Abram demonstrates here.  He tells Lot to choose. Abram is older and wealthier.  He is over Lot, more powerful than Lot.  He could have dictated to Lot but he allows him to be part of the solution.  He asks Lot to choose and says he will take what’s left.  Sometimes physical distance is needed.  Kids, if you share a room with a sibling maybe you’ve had to say, “This side of the room is mine and that side is yours.”  College students, you love your parents but maybe some things aren’t working out quite right with you living at home right now.  When we love each other we have to find common ground.  Abram chooses peace over prosperity.  He is already wealthy. Sometimes in a disagreement if we know we will lose financially we will dig in.  That’s a wrong move.  Peace is valuable.  Peace should win over prosperity.  Abram knows God will take care of him.  He gives Lot an opportunity to make a choice.

Give people the freedom to make their own stupid choices.

You might be thinking, “Pastor Scotty, you did NOT just say stupid choices!”  Abram knew what was right but he still gives Lot the freedom to choose.  This is hard, especially when we know someone will make a stupid choice.

                    11So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other.

In Scripture, going east is never a good decision!  It’s a repeated pattern.  We make stupid choices too.  Abram has been there as well.  He’s made choices that weren’t wise.  From the perspective of the world, Lot made the best choice.  He chose the Jordan Valley and Abram heads to the mountains.  The mountains are a harder land.  Corn doesn’t grow on a rocky top.  Lot is closer to the cities.  It’s familiar.  Sometimes God calls us to do what’s more difficult.  Lot chooses the easy path and we can identify.  We make stupid choices too and sometimes those choices are spiritual choices.  We go our own way.  This is sin.  The Bible says we were enemies of God and Christ chose to take our place.  God is gracious towards us even in our sinful choices.  The way God reconciles us through the cross, God brings us back and there’s a cost involved.  The cost for us might be letting go of pride and asking God to make our hearts right.  How can we do that when we disagree with another person?  Abram demonstrates his trust in God.  Abram is about to go to a new place.  Abram goes with the promises of God.  God’s promises from chapter 12 are still true no matter the circumstances. 

Trust God.

            18So Abram moved his tent and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD.

Abram is now 20 miles south of Jerusalem.  He’s not on the best land, but he has God’s promises.  It ends up being the perfect place.  In chapter 12 Abram leave everything and he has been faithful.  He continues to follow God and lives as a nomad.  He has no permanent home.  Look at what happens in this verse.  Look at what God does: God gives Abram a permanent home.  “Settled” means to dwell and make it a home.  God finally gives him a home.  This will be an important place throughout the whole Bible.  Abram builds an altar there and he worships God once again.  We will all face disagreements.  God calls us to be people who make peace.  In all the disruptions, God cares about your heart.  How is your heart?  Can you trust Jesus as the Lord and Savior of your life?  Can you believe Jesus died and rose from the dead?  Can you ask god to forgive you?  If you believe and ask forgiveness God will give you a deep peace.  Maybe some things are disturbing you.  Would you lay these things before God?  Can you pray for peace?

Small Group Questions from the Serendipity Bible

Opening Questions:
·       Who is your favorite uncle?  Your favorite cousin?  Your spoiled nephew?  Where do you like to go for walks?

Dig Questions:
·       Why do Abram and Lot choose as they do? A. Rich uncles can afford to be generous?  B. Nice guys finish last?  C. God will cover any mistake Abram makes?  D.  Good real estate advice is hard to come by?  E.  Abram is a righty and Lot is a lefty?  F.  Abram is more the country pioneer type and Lot the urban city type?  G.  Lot loves to live a life of sin?
·       In forsaking rich cities and choosing less fertile land, what does this reveal about Abram? (See Heb. 11:8-16)
·       In reply to Abram’s faith what new promise does God give?

Reflection Questions:
·       If faced with a similar choice, would you have followed the example of Abram or Lot? Why?
·       Would your relationship with God be helped or hurt by a more isolated lifestyle?  By a more crowded lifestyle?  Why?
·       What thing might God be asking you “to lift up your eyes…look…see…go, walk” (vs. 14-17)
·       Like Lot, where are you “grabbing for the gusto?”

Sermon Notes are taken, transcribed and posted by Jeni Martin Johnson.


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