Today's reading: Genesis 21:25-34; Proverbs 16:23
Of all the chapters of Genesis dealing with Abraham, the final few verses of Genesis 21 are the most revealing about his people skills, and contain a valuable lesson for us about conflict resolution. In verses 24-35 Abraham confronts king Abimelech about a well Abimelech's servants have wrongfully seized. The exchange that follows demonstrates how wise and skilled Abraham was at relating with others and resolving conflict. Here are some of the things I noticed:
- Abraham controlled his emotions. He was calm and chose a moderate approach when he confronted Abimelech.
- Abraham didn't beat around the bush. He was direct and got right to the point.
- He didn’t point an accusing finger at Abimelech, but instead presented him with the facts of the wrong doing which allowed Abimelech to respond well.
- Abraham was thorough in his resolution of the issue. He verbally confirmed in front of all parties that the well was his, a new name was given to the well which served to commemorate the covenant made, and he made sure there was a tangible element and reminder of the covenant by the giving of sheep and oxen and the special setting apart of seven ewes.
Most of us don't like confrontation, and we try to avoid it at almost any cost. But when we put our heads in the sand or try to ignore people problems, nothing is solved and our relationships are weakened and damaged. So the exchange between Abraham and Abimelech is an important one for us to take note of. It's refreshing and puts before us an excellent example of how to deal with conflict in a positive and good way.
How would you explain the benefits of confrontation to someone after reading this passage? What stood out to you about the exchange between Abraham and Abimelech, and why? How will you use or draw on Abraham's example the next time you encounter conflict in one of your relationships? Tami
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