There is no such thing as an isolated conflict. Others are always influenced, most of the time in a negative way, by the strife and tension. God had blessed Abram and Lot with great wealth and possessions as they set off in pursuit of His will. They had so much that Scripture tells us, “the land was not able to bear them, so that they could not dwell together.” Then a conflict arose between Abram’s and Lot’s cattle herders, and something had to be done.
When Abram became aware of the conflict, he called his nephew, Lot, aside and said, “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.” (Genesis 13:8) Abram decided the best course of action would be for him and his nephew to part ways. He did this for two reasons. First, Abram and Lot were part of the same family. Abram wanted to avoid family conflict by all means possible, a wise choice. Second, he knew the neighbors were watching. He was concerned about his testimony before the nations which surrounded him. It wouldn’t look very good for a God-fearing man to be in hostility with his near kin.
Abram dealt with this conflict by removing himself from the setting which influenced it. This was not cowardice. It was wisdom. He still loved his nephew, but he had to love him from a distance. Otherwise, there would be trouble. As Christians, we may likewise find it advantageous to love some brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ “long distance.” Ironically, the distance between us and another person may become the means of keeping peace and upholding our good testimony before the world.
Are there some people with whom you are prone to lock horns? Perhaps you have different opinions on important issues; you might have conflicting interests or personalities. If you are aware of a conflict between yourself and another person, pray about how the matter can be resolved without becoming a burden or stumbling block to others. Whether God calls you to love the other person long distance, to show tough love and confront them about the situation, or simply to forbear and forgive the point of contention, maintain a good testimony at all costs. The neighbors are watching.
Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.