On the pages of Holy Writ there are presented to us some giants of faith. Hebrews 11 gives us a whole list of them and their deeds which they wrought by faith. But Scripture also shows us some of the children of God who were extremely weak in their faith, frail believers whose works were destroyed while they themselves are saved as by fire.
Lot was one of them. That he is to be classified with believers, and with the children of God, is evident from Scripture’s testimony that he vexed his righteous soul in Sodom. The sin of Sodom bothered him greatly. But it grieved him most of all to see the way his family was going, and how his daughters were seeking their husbands among the wicked sons of the world. However, he was a born again, believing child of God; and God never takes away the seed of that new life which He gives in the moment of the rebirth. He does give grace to cause all these to persevere even to the end, though they may fall, and fall far. What is that statement in the book of Psalms, “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand”?
Although Chapter 12 does not mention Lot, we may be sure from Chapter 13:1 that Lot went with Abram and Sarai into Egypt at the time of the famine. However, as a weak believer he put up no argument to Abram, and he made no attempt to turn Abram aside from this sinful way and walk that showed lack of trust in God. He spoke no word of rebuke, made no attempt to correct. He, too, was going to live by bread alone; and it all looked good to Lot. Anything that would give him material advantage he was not ready to let go. If Abram went for bread, Lot would go along for bread. If Abram feared for his life, Lot feared for his life as fully, and perhaps more so.
Being a younger man—and he was not a young lad—was no reason for him to remain silent when Abram showed his intentions of going to Egypt for bread. The elders in the church are usually exactly that, the older men in the congregation with years of experience. But it often pleased God to use the younger to rebuke the older when they walked in ways of sin. It was the lad, Samuel, whom God used to bring tidings to aged Eli because of the sins of his sons which he did not seek to prevent and to punish. And did not Paul write to Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth”? No, it would not have been out of place for the younger man to rebuke and correct the older man, when he sets out, or makes known his plans to set out, on an evil way. That, after all, is a work of love. And it is not love to leave one in one’s sins and make no attempt to turn that one from an evil way.
Along with Abram went Lot, following Abram’s bad example, and glad that he, too, could get some bread in Egypt. And he got more than bread. Both he and Abram came home rich in cattle and servants. Abram, we read, was very rich in cattle and silver and gold. With the latter he could buy servants to take care of his herds which were too large for him to handle alone. And of Lot we read in verse 5 that he had flocks and herds and tents. Verse 7 also indicates that Lot had herdsmen, while verse 6 teaches us that the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together. They had large flocks and herds and no land. The Canaanites and Perizzites dwelt in the land before they came there, and they had taken the good ground and the wells. And now when Abram comes out of Egypt with large herds and flocks, and Lot comes with a goodly number of these, the matter gets critical. God, watching over His covenant people, does not allow the Canaanites and the Perizzites to attack His children. Strife does not originate from that direction. God is faithful to His covenant promise; and, having brought Abram here with the promise of giving the land to him and of making of him a great nation, He gives him perfect protection from the Canaanites and the Perizzites.
But within the sphere of the church strife becomes a very real threat. Abram’s servants and Lot’s strive for land and for water. How that crafty old adversary of the church, Satan, delights to foment strife within the church! How he enjoys setting the brother against the brother and making enemies within the sphere of the covenant! If he cannot set the world against the church, he will strive to turn the church itself into a battleground. Always we ought to be on our guard against him and live in the consciousness of his many attacks within the church by the members of that church. We have so many examples of it recorded for us in Holy Writ that we cannot say that God has not forewarned us as to this wicked device of Satan. And when he stirs us up to attack the fellow believer for some material advantage, or for our own cause, we ought to tell him to get behind us and to resist his every attempt.
Abram does not only do that, but he puts forth positive efforts to make peace where a state of war existed. We are to emulate Abram, and not Lot. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall see God.”
Now it is inconceivable that Lot knew nothing of the strife between his herdsmen and between Abram’s. Abram knew, and we may be sure that Lot’s herdsmen told him of their struggle for land and water with the herdsmen of Abram. Lot’s choice of the best land indicates his selfish, self-seeking nature. He may have given his servants orders to get out early and obtain the best of the land in the region. We may be sure that he was aware of the strife and approved of the struggle of his herdsmen for the best. He did not relish an open conflict with Abram. He was not trying to pick a fight with him. But he was ready to let his herdsmen fight to get every advantage over Abram that he could without putting forth his own hand to hurt him. He is not the peacemaker, but one who, while avoiding a confrontation personally with Abram, seeks to get an advantage over him.
Even in this respect and apart from his choice of the best land, when Abram as the peacemaker suggests this to him, Lot showed himself to be an ingrate. When his father died, Abram took him under his roof and provided for him as though he were his child. When Abram went to the land of promise, he took Lot along, who then already must have been old enough to stand on his own two feet and support himself. Abram was seventy-five when he arrived in Canaan. Lot could have been in his mid-thirties or early forties. Yet Abram looked after him as a son, and took him along as part of his family. Did Lot appreciate it all? Did he have a warm spot in his heart for Abram? You would not think so to read the account here in Genesis 13. The strife between his herdsmen and Abram’s he made no attempt to halt in deference to the man who had befriended him all these years. In peace he was not interested. In fat flocks and herds, in gold and silver, in personal advancement and advantage were his interests.
Abram is the peacemaker. And then we ought to place the emphasis upon the last part of the word. It is one thing to be a lover of peace, or even to be a seeker of peace. It is another thing to be a maker of peace. The peacemaker takes the initiative. He does not say, “Let him come to me, and I will receive him.” He certainly does not say what many have said in the heat of strife and disagreement, “Only over my dead body!” Abram could have driven Lot away. He could have told him that this was enough, and if he did not instruct his servants to quit their fighting for the land which God had promised him, he would take measures to teach him that this was land promised to him by God. No, Abram wanted no fight between himself and Lot. He did not want the fighting between the two groups of herdsmen. He wanted peace, and he did something about it. THAT is what a peacemaker does.
Abram was ready to sacrifice, to give up what was rightfully his to maintain and keep peace between himself and Lot. Vindication such a peacemaker will leave to God. A reward he does not seek. He is interested in knowing the approval of his God. He is interested in walking in a way of love to God by dealing with his neighbor in love.
And all this he did in the full confidence of his faith that God would fulfill His promises and give him all that which had been promised. We see here a different Abram from the one who in the weakness of faith went down to Egypt to seek assurance that he would live to inherit the promises. The restoring grace of God is so evident, and Abram had learned from his experiences because the Spirit applied the truth to his heart.
Now as the peacemaker he has the confidence of seeing God and of dwelling with Him in the glory of His kingdom. “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall see God.” All that Lot got to see and could see in his frame of mind is those green fields near Sodom and Gomorrah. All he saw was the material wealth of this world. And that is all we see when we walk in strife with the neighbor. James drives the truth home when he writes, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” James could have been talking to Lot, for his words do apply to him. He lusted, or otherwise he would have put a stop to the fighting of his herdsmen. He would have told them that the land was Abram’s, spoken glowingly of all Abram had done for him, and would have gone to Abram and told him that he would move away since the land was promised to him. He would have thanked Abram and sought peace with him. No, Lot lusted, and he followed his lust to the plains of Sodom.
He did not see God in the sense that he had the assurance of God’s approval and favor. He saw sin and sinners, and he came more and more in contact with those who hate God. He found himself getting deeper and deeper involved with them. The peacemakers shall see God, not those who fight because of the lust of their flesh.
And they shall see God because He is THE Peacemaker Who took the initiative, sought out the rebel, sent His Son and sacrificed Him so that there might be peace with God, and that we might by the Spirit of Christ, and on the basis of His shed blood, be reconciled to God to fight Him no more. And all His children by the power of that grace of reconciliation will be peacemakers. They will seek out the brother and go to him. They will not wait for him to come to them. They will give up what is rightfully theirs for the sake of God, and leave the whole matter of vindication to Him Who declared, “I will recompense saith the Lord.” God’s children will be imitators of God. And whereas He made peace by the blood of the cross, they will make peace by denying their flesh and for God’s sake live in peace and self-denial before the brother in Christ.
Whom do you emulate? Lot or Abram?
Emulate Abram, and you are an imitator of God.