It is amazing how many conflicts are caused or magnified by simple dishonesty. This is a common theme in Genesis, especially in the story of how Jacob’s dishonesty led to conflict Esau and how Laban’s dishonesty led to conflict with Jacob. In Ephesians 4:25 we are told to “put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor…” The context of this Scripture passage deals with unity so it again is showing us how dishonesty spoils positive relationships. Abimelech could never have a positive relationship with Abraham until he was sure he could trust him. This could only happen if Abraham was honest from this point forward.
n practice this means being honest but kind about our feelings, situations, likes and dislikes, etc. In addition to his request for honesty from Abraham, Abimelech reminds Abraham of the kindness that he had shown to him even though he was “living as an alien” in the land. In essence he is saying, “When I had the upper hand I did not take advantage of your situation so you should do the same for me.” Your acts of kindness in the past can be very rewarding in the future.
Sometimes problems and conflicts are made much worse by not being open about the problems with the person who has offended us. We may talk to everyone else but not to them. Often in our efforts to keep the peace we make things worse by not speaking up. This is true at work where we may not be up front about issues that are bugging us. This may be the case with a neighbor when we’re not open about a serious divisive issue or it maybe in the church when we are not sharing our real concerns in an appropriate manner.
It is easy for people to deceive themselves into thinking that if they ignore a problem long enough it will go away. Unfortunately, problems rarely–if ever–disappear. The longer we ignore them, the worse they become. Ignore a chest cold and it can become bronchitis; ignore a knock in your engine, and eventually it will blow; ignore a conflict with your child, and it can result in total rebellion.
Apparently the complaint of Abraham’s about the well was worded in such a way that he assumed Abimelech knew of the problem because Abimelech is quick to defend himself and say, “I don’t know who has done this. You did not tell me, and I heard about it only today.” Sometimes we never get problems or conflicts solved or come to a mutual understanding because the offended person assumes that the offender knows of the problem. We act as if people have a sixth sense about these things or we assume that our subtle remarks and innuendos are clear, when they are not!
Many people do not even know that they have offended you or if they do sense a hostility they are bewildered as to what the problem is. It may be obvious to you but not to the offender. We must be very careful not to take for granted that people are aware of a problem unless we have directly and clearly articulated the problem and its seriousness for us.
Abraham accepts Abimelech’s answer and responds by entering a covenant agreement in verse 27. The animals were like a seal or confirmation of that agreement, much like a handshake or signature is today. Then to make sure that there were no misunderstandings concerning the ownership of the well that was in dispute Abraham gives Abimelech seven lambs in verses 29, 30. This was an ancient way of making a clear pronouncement of ownership. Abimelech’s acceptance acted as “a witness” or a testimony that Abraham had dug and therefore owned the well. Abraham is now the one being proactive in avoiding future conflicts. As was common in ancient times the place was named after significant event that took place in verse 31.
There is no true spirituality without right relationships with others. It is not God’s desire that we escape the world but that we put our efforts toward building better relationships. We can do that by applying the principles we learn in God’s Word.
Be Proactive In Avoiding Future Conflict
Deal Honestly With Others
Be Open About Problems
Do Not Make Assumptions About Another’s Knowledge Of A Problem