Thrown into a project with his colleague Tim, Alvin faced a major challenge: he and Tim had very different ideas of how to go about it. While they respected each other’s opinions, their approaches were so different that conflict seemed imminent. Before conflict broke out, however, the two men agreed to discuss their differences with their boss, who put them on separate teams. It turned out to be a wise move. That day, Alvin learned this lesson: Being united doesn’t always mean doing things together.
Abraham must have realized this truth when he suggested that he and Lot go their separate ways in Bethel (Genesis 13:5–9). Seeing that there wasn’t enough space for both their flocks, Abraham wisely suggested parting company. But first, he stressed that they were “close relatives” (v. 8), reminding Lot of their relationship. Then, with the greatest humility, he let his nephew have the first choice (v. 9) even though he, Abraham, was the senior man. It was, as one pastor described it, a “harmonious separation.”
Being made uniquely by God, we may find that we sometimes work better separately to achieve the same goal. There’s a unity in diversity. May we never forget, however, that we’re still brothers and sisters in the family of God. We may do things differently, but we remain united in purpose.
Both Abram and Lot were wealthy, possessing flocks, herds, and herdsmen. The land that provided enough to support them before was no longer adequate. Apparently their time in Egypt had grown their holdings significantly so that the land could no longer support both of them. Abram, as the older man and leader of the entire party, had the right to choose, yet he deferred to Lot. Why?
Perhaps Abram was already acting in faith, as would mark the remainder of his life (see the story of the sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22). He was leaving the decision in God’s hands, trusting that what had been promised—that his descendants would receive the land—would be fulfilled. Knowing his descendants would receive the inheritance meant that he wouldn’t. Perhaps immediate possession wasn’t necessary from his perspective. He could wait in faith.