“Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. And the land could not sustain them while dwelling together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together. Genesis 13:5-6
The scriptures point out two reasons why Abram and Lot part ways: 1) their material possessions were of such great abundance that it was difficult to ‘share’ the same space, and 2) their shepherds were not getting along. Abram specifically said to Lot “Let there be no strife between you and me” so it appears there was some discord in their relationship as well.
It is indeed unfortunate when money or material goods becomes a source of division in relationships, even that of blood relatives. We know that Abram brought his possessions with him when he left Haran (Gen. 12:5) and he obtained even more from Pharaoh (Gen. 12:16), and Lot had his own possessions too (Gen 13:5). So plentiful were their camps (including livestock, goods and even people) that despite the vast amount of land before them, it was not enough. It was an issue of resource consumption on one hand, but it seems their camps were not getting along in general. Proverbs 25:25 reads “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” At some point just having more elbow room is not enough when people aren’t getting along.
Even today where there is wealth, there is separation. Famous and wealthy people often sequester themselves away from others in large homes with a large area of property, or even on a yacht perhaps. In the case of Lot and Abram, both men had abundance, so if their friendship was lacking, they had no reason to be near one another. If Lot were poor and Abram rich, one can’t help but think Lot would have done whatever was necessary to keep the relationship close. But, as neither was in need perhaps some true colors were shown.
We can develop two types of attitudes toward wealth: We can manage it with an attitude of stewardship, or we can let it drive our desires and consume us. Abram is the embodiment of the former, and Lot illustrates the latter. Here we are only seeing the beginnings of it; two men with abundance quarreling and in need of their own space. When they part ways, Abram is indifferent to the land he gets and lets Lot have his pick, and he takes the fertile land. Lot moves closer and closer to Sodom, a large city center in that time which attracted him, whereas Abram stayed in the less populated Canaan. Ultimately Lot’s choice of where to live resulted in him being taken into captivity as Sodom and Gomorrah, along with other cities were in subjection to some of the surrounding nations, and when they rebelled, the resistance was crushed and captives taken (Gen. 14)
This can be a lesson for us spiritually speaking, that a love for wealth can sever relationships and ultimately cause us to become enslaved. With Abram we see quite the opposite; even after he rescues Lot and is offered payment by the king of Sodom, he does not accept it on sheer principle. In addition we see Abram acknowledging that God is the actual owner of everything (Gen. 14:19), and giving Melchizedek, who was both a king (of Salem, believed to be Jerusalem) and a priest of God, a tenth of all – the first tithe in the scriptures.