Family Dispute Resolution
We discuss an approach to settling family dispute through unrelenting commitment to peace. The discussion focuses on interactions between Jacob and Esau while Jacob was on his way back to Canaan from Paddan Aram. He sent emissaries to Esau, conveying to him a message of humility, desire for peace, and description of progress that occurred in his life during the previous twenty years.
Persistent Commitment to Peace
When the messengers informed him that Esau was coming with four hundred men, Jacob feared impending hostility but was determined to make peace. He divided his people and flock into two groups so at least one might escape; prayed God to save him from Esau; placed droves of farm animals on the way as gift to Esau, hoping to pacify him; and bowed seven times as he approached Esau.
Peace with Everyone
His commitment to peace even with the possibility of impending hostility illustrates a desirable state of mind for any person in a family dispute. His behavior in this incident is an excellent example of Paul’s council in Romans 12:18: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” That is, seek out every possibility and do your part irrespective of what the other party might do, to find peace with every one. We don’t know how Jacob’s behavior contributed to making peace with Esau, but his commitment to peace is an excellent lesson from the incident.