Family Dispute Resolution
The bible provides practical guidance on settling family disputes. In this first of a two-part study, we learn about family dispute settlement, roles of the Council of Relatives, and the importance of sharing food, based on interactions between Jacob and Laban during Jacob’s departure from Paddan Aram. When Laban was informed that Jacob left with his household and belongings without telling him, he gathered his relatives and pursued Jacob, caught up with him at Gilead, and confronted him the next day in the presence of their relatives. The interaction that followed illustrates that the best approach to settling a family dispute is to make peace without necessarily digging for the truth, setup mechanisms for preventing future disputes, and invite God to witness and honor the settlement.
Council of Relatives
The interactions also teach us about the Council of Relatives, an informal forum consisting of family representatives and convened as needed to regulate inter-family interactions, such as settle disputes, perform marriages, and celebrate events of family significance.
We also learn the importance of sharing food, which invokes a mutual sacrifice based on each person willing to accept less so that others may receive something. This mutual sacrifice is equivalent to each person providing for the others and satisfies the conditions for earning blessing through human service [Matthew 25:31-40]. In this way, sharing food amounts to sharing goodwill if the principle of mutual sacrifice is respected and observed.