• William T. Howe Ph.D.

January 5, 2021

Daily Reading: Genesis 16-18

Genesis 18:28

Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.

Years ago, when I was young, I had a job that involved negotiating medical supply agreements with hospital purchasing groups. On a plane one day I entered into a conversation with a man who was a lawyer. He told me about his job, and I told him about mine. Upon saying that I was involved in negotiating contracts he seemed to be incredulous. He bluntly asked me, “What makes you qualified to negotiate contracts?” To which I said, “I don’t know, but I’m doing it.” It reminded me of the boy playing in the mud puddle, a businessman passed by and asked the boy “What are you trying to do?” To which the boy said, “I’m not trying to do anything, I’m doing it!”

Anyway, I enjoy negotiation. I’ve studied negotiation and love to “haggle”. By the way, every transaction in life is a negotiation. Today, in our reading we read a tremendous story of a man who negotiated with the Lord. Upon learning that the Lord was going to destroy Sodom, a city in which his nephew Lot lived with his family, Abraham interceded. He began by asking the Lord if He would destroy the city if there were fifty righteous people living there. The Lord said no. Thereafter, Abraham continued lowering his “offer” getting the Lord all the way down to ten righteous. That is where Abraham ceased the negotiation. As you read the story today notice a few practical thoughts about negotiation.

First, the Lord did not become angry at Abraham’s continuing offers. To the Lord, it was not personal, not threatening, it was just business, so to speak. Through life I have made offers and counter offers to individuals, sometimes, in fact oftentimes, they become angry or offended. When this happens, I walk away from the negotiation. I choose not to do business with an angry person. Proverbs 22:24 is the reason why: Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: This has served me well over the years, for I do not do business with someone who cannot control their temper.

Second, Abraham continued asking until he obtained his comfort level. Knowing that Lot and his family were in the city, Abraham must have been confident that there were ten righteous. Yet evidently there were not in that the Lord did overthrow that city. The Lord never told Abraham to stop asking for further concessions, but Abraham reached his goal and was satisfied with the deal. I sometimes wonder what the Lord would have said if Abraham would have gone to five righteous. The lesson here, keep asking until you get a no. It may be on the first counteroffer or the tenth, you never know. The other party also has a place where they are comfortable, when asked to go beyond that, you will know.

Third, notice how respectful Abraham was when requesting a concession from the Lord. In verse 27 he says …Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes. Be respectful, remember, it’s business. The person you are negotiating with owes you nothing and you owe them nothing. That is until a deal is agreed upon.

I could go on and on about this very practical story, but let’s leave it here for now.

Until tomorrow, live for Christ today.

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