The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.Proverbs 17:14
As Abram and his nephew Lot returned from Egypt to the promised land of Canaan, there was a dispute among their people. Instead of letting the issue fester, Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren” (Genesis 12:8). He invited Lot to choose where he and his people would settle, and Abram agreed to settle some distance away.
Lot chose the plain of Jordan, which looked fertile and attractive, but which was also populated by the people of Sodom. Abram took the less attractive plain of Mamre, where he built an altar to the Lord.
Elder Quentin L. Cook noted that Abram handled the situation well because he understood what was important and what was not. “To have peaceful relationships, the lesson is clear: we should be willing to compromise and eliminate strife with respect to matters that do not involve righteousness…. But on conduct relating to righteousness and doctrinal imperatives, we need to remain firm and steadfast” (“Personal Peace in Challenging Times,” General Conference, October 2021).
I would add that Abram prioritized his relationship with Lot over the chance to live in the ideal location. “We be brethren,” he said, so we ought to avoid conflict.
Reducing our attachment to earthly possessions can help. Nephi pointed out that strife is often paired with “envyings,” and subsequent Book of Mormon prophets warned against both. (See 2 Nephi 26:21, Alma 1:32, Alma 4:9, Alma 16:18, Helaman 13:22, 3 Nephi 21:19, 3 Nephi 30:2, 4 Nephi 1:16, Mormon 8:36.)
Today, I will reduce strife by compromising on things that aren’t important. Like Abram, I will watch for early signs of contention and propose solutions which address the issue before it gets out of control.