Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord. Genesis 13:10-13
Lot had a problem. He did not have his own walk with the Lord. Abraham interacted with God - both hearing and speaking to Him - and Lot just followed Abraham. There is a problem with this kind of living. Eventually you will have to walk on your own. What will happen then? How will you know, follow, and experience an interactive relationship with God? What will counteract your heart - which according to Scripture is deceitful and wicked. This was Lot’s problem - and as we will see in this part of, “A Lot to Learn in 2016,” it does not go well for those who follow in Lot’s steps.
Abraham and his nephew Lot were both in the business of raising livestock. When you prosper in this endeavor you will eventually have problems - and they did. Their herdsmen began go quarrel over pasture land. Rather than have a growing enmity between their servants, Abraham proposed that they separate from each other so that enough pasture land would be available for their herds. This was the moment where Lot would have to make his own decisions - and the first one is indicative of a man who does not know how to follow God himself - but who relies on other people to hear God for him.
Abram offers him any of the land that was before them. Lot got first choice. What he chose was the land near Sodom and Gomorrah. He chooses a place where the people were wicked and sinning greatly against the Lord. He chose on the basis of what "he" saw. Scripture says that he looked and saw that this land was “like the land of Egypt” and therefore he chose it. In Scripture, Egypt is not considered a good place to be. In addition to this - we also learn from the passage that the place Lot chooses is “near” Sodom. The problem here is that we also learn that the men of Sodom were considered “wicked exceedingly and sinners against Jehovah.” Lot’s first choice was to live by what his eyes saw and what his selfish desires wanted. He didn’t consider that by doing this he was moving closer and closer to sin. He did not consider that he would be taking his family into a place where there would no longer be Abraham’s godly influence - but the influence of exceedingly wicked sinners.
Lot moved his tents as far as Sodom. The phrase used here in Hebrew means he moved “near” Sodom. There was enough in Lot to know he shouldn’t go into Sodom - so he did the next best thing - he moved near it. Here is a lesson we need to learn from Lot. What you move toward in your life - is likely what you are going to become. Having followed a godly man (Abraham) Lot now was going to have as his strongest influence, ungodly, exceedingly wicked men. If Lot had his own relationship with God he may have done this to influence those men - but we know that what he saw was their prosperity - and the “good life” and place they lived. There is going to be more - much more to this in our next installment. But . . . before we go there let’s consider something in our journey together. There is a “Lot” to learn even at this point.
What drives your decisions in life? If our decisions are made with what we see with our eyes as our primary information - we will wind up in a mess. If we are seeking “the good life” as defined by the world around us - we will once again wind up in a mess. If we joyfully grab first choice in things (and don’t consider others better than ourselves - Philippians 2:1-3) and want first place - we will surely wind up in a mess. Lot’s decisions were driven by the (1) Lust of his eyes; (2) the lust of his flesh; and (3) the boastful pride of life. By the way, these three things are all defined as sin and worldliness in 1 John 2:15-17. Lot made a choice that increased the worldliness in his life - and then deceived himself by thinking that only by moving “near” sin he would be fine. These kind of choices don’t bring blessing - except in the immediate gratification of our fleshly lusts. The long-term results of these kind of decisions - are disastrous in our lives. Let me state this positively though - so you will have something to do on when making decisions.
First - make decisions by wisdom, which is defined as seeing life from God’s perspective. We look at things through His Word, His Spirit, and the wisdom that comes from spiritual sight. Don’t just seek an answer - seek Him and ask Him to give you His eternal perspective on your choices. Second - make decisions in light of long-term (honestly - eternal) joy and delight. Ask yourself, what is going to last? What is going to be an eternal blessing? What will benefit me spiritually - so that I can take it with me when I leave this world? Lastly, make decisions that move away from sin - not toward it. Consider the sins of your past - and the sins God wants to deliver you from in life. Don’t move toward those things - and especially don’t think you can get nearer to them without them influencing you. If God wants you to minister to someone or minister somewhere that is one thing - because that doesn’t move you closer to sin - it moves you closer to sinners - but only for God’s purposes of leading them to Christ and influencing them for godliness and the gospel. A parallel question to this might be, “Am I moving toward influencing others - or being influenced by them?” You can move toward sinners or sinful situations if the first is true - your seeking TO influence them. But if you are going to BE INFLUENCED - you need to move toward godliness and be sure that their influence brings you closer to God.
May God help us to make good, godly decisions. May we be wise and seek and desire His perspective in all things. May we be seeking eternal benefit in life rather than a quick fix high. And may we truly learn from Lot in this situation (as well as in any we face this year) that there are much better ways of decision making than the ones he chose.