Walk by Faith to Heal Relationships
Broken relationships are like old injuries. The original wound may have healed years ago. Yet the scar it left behind is still there and it still aches. Many are you are carrying around the aftereffects of hurts from your parents, children, spouses, or friends. The bonds that once tied you so strongly together are frayed or completely torn…and it pains you intensely. The wisdom of man tells you to just move on and let it go. It is just not worth it! Yet, it still lingers.
What do you do in this circumstance?
God sets out a straightforward example in the Bible of how to try to repair problems in fellowship. He answers the question of how to begin to rebuild even the most broken relationships. The answer comes in following the example of Abraham. He trusted God to protect Him and protect a fraying relationship, even when the results initially seemed negative. It doesn’t always result in a fixed relationship. That takes willingness on both sides. It will allow you to stand in good faith before God and say you tried.
It is easy to understand what to do conceptually. It tends to be in the execution where you get hung up. It is in the doing that your pride and fear get in the way.
The flesh is the enemy to restored relationships.
Follow Father Abraham’s Example
Abraham is an amazing man. God calls him from his homeland one day and sets him on one of the most important journeys in all of history. God tells Abraham he will be the father of a great nation and that is enough, Abraham is onboard. He follows God, sometimes imperfectly, for the rest of his life. His witness is hugely impactful for one simple reason. He follows God. Look what Hebrews says about Abraham:
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
Abraham trusted God and this made him extraordinary. Faith made him special. He looked forward to the celestial city made by God. This faith in the unseen made seemingly hard decisions on earth easier. You see this very clearly at a time of brewing conflict within his family. It was a time where we see Satan subtly trying to tear God’s people apart. Yet, Abraham’s humility and absolute reliance on God restored peace to his family.
Abraham’s Relational Conflict
A dispute arises in Genesis 13 when both Abraham and his nephews, Lot’s households are being blessed by God. Abraham and Lot are growing wealthy because of God’s goodness lavished on them. Their family and servants are growing exponentially due to God’s provision. The problems start when these expanding families start clashing with each other.
Abraham acts decisively to make peace. He doesn’t avoid the issues or hope they go away. He deals with the ripples of trouble in the pool before they become waves to protect God’s people. This is a wonderful example in itself. Avoiding an issue just tends to allow it to grow. You see this also in Acts with the dispute between the Jewish and Greek widows. The Apostles immediately step up and bring the issue before the church for resolution. They know doing otherwise will allow roots of bitterness and resentment to grow.
But it is how Abraham resolves the tension that is so great for us to take note of. Simply put, Abraham lets go of the conflict itself, humbles himself and trusts God completely to fix the problem. Look at what he says to Lot:
So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”
Abraham sees there is conflict and quarreling between the two groups. He does not pretend things are fine. He identifies the problem clearly. Once he does, he takes action in faith rather than argue over blame.
Abraham first lets go of the conflict and humbles himself. Abraham does not resort to arguing about who was right and what He deserves. He was entitled to deference and respect from Lot as the elder. Lot should have asked his uncle for guidance and attempted to honor him. Abraham was not in the wrong. Yet, instead, he laid down his rights before Lot and allows him to choose the outcome that fixes their problem.
Peace in the family of God is more important to Abraham than being right.
Humility Relies on God in Charge
Abraham’s humility could be seen as foolishness. It could be argued that this is confirmed by Lot’s response.
Lot makes a choice and takes what appears to be the best land for himself. He is given first choice while Abraham choose to rely completely on God.
Here is the really important question:
Did Abraham get the bad end of the deal?
It may seem so in our calculations but look further. The land Lot chooses turns out to be the home of Sodom, a land so filled with evil God destroys it with fire and brimstone. Lot’s choice pushed Abraham away from Sodom. The worldly view of the situation objects over Lot getting the best land! Yet, this is foolishness in God’s eyes.
Abraham also gets the best result from his actions possible. He follows God’s way and as a result God blesses Him. There is always joy in choosing to love, to humble oneself, and to seek the best for others. This is Jesus way and He tells you to earn treasures in heaven through following it.
You may come out on the short end of a bargain on earth by following Jesus’ example. You will never regret doing so once you see your treasure in heaven.
This is conflict resolution according to God.
Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness in a Conflict
Abraham knew there was a conflict to resolve. He knew Lot’s character by now in their journeys. He likely knew Lot would choose what he thought was the best land. He may have even known it would get Lot in trouble. Abraham also knew God and His heart towards Abraham. God loved him and took care of Him. God called Him and would not desert him. He knew that regardless of Lot’s decision and any problems it causes, God would honor Abraham. God would provide better land. God would provide more pasture and water. God would replace any losses caused by Lot.
He relied on the promise of God that God would what?
He would exalt Abraham, as God promises, because Abraham humbled himself. Regardless of his ultimate decision, Abraham actively sought a blessing for Lot as well. In doing so, he avoided the breach that was forming in the family. All it took was trusting in God.
Abraham sought first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and the rest was added to him.
God Blessed Abraham
We know from the rest of Genesis that a contrast of sorts develops. God blesses Abraham greatly. Lot seems to repeatedly get himself in trouble. Abraham walks by faith. Lot seems to walk by sight. They live out the contrast of trust and humility versus self will at work. But Abraham does not know this pattern when he chooses humility and faith. He trusts God to fulfill the promises He made to Abraham and to be the God that he knows. Are we doing the same in our lives?
Lot eventually gets in quite a few problem situations with God. He needs to be dragged out of Sodom. His family gets all mixed. He is captured by his enemies. Yet, these are between God and Lot. Abraham remains in good standing with Lot. Abraham does what he can to bless lot out of Abraham’s abundance and love Lot despite Lot.
Abraham handles his side of the relationship and lets God handle Lot’s side.
Your Turn to Trust
Do you have a broken relationship in your life? Are bonds fraying? Is God speaking to you through Abraham’s example? Do you need to resolve a situation in life with someone?
As far as it is up to you, live in peace with all men. It may be this is God calling you to handle the “as far as it up to you” portion of restoring the relationship. He may be calling you to go with open hands and a vulnerable heart and offer humility to the other person.
You may not be able to force them to make a good choice with what is being offered, free will prevents this certainty. But you can humble ourselves like Abraham without fear knowing that God is in charge of the outcome.
He will exalt you even if the other person remains defiant.
Seek first the Kingdom…
Please note – this does not mean you will be successful. It also does not suggest exposing yourself to someone who has shown themselves to be set on abusing you. As far as it is up to you contemplates there will be situations that are not up to you.