Friday, January 23, 2015

Standing on a slippery slope? ................. Parables 226

(July 18, 1990)

A few people sit around the kitchen table, coffee cups in hand. They discuss morals... and the absence of them. One person shocks the rest with a story about some particularly offensive sinful condition into which another had fallen. Most shake their heads and wonder how anybody could do “that.” One of the group declares, “I would never do that...” Another says, “Me neither.”

Most people don’t plan gross evil as their goal in life, at least not to begin with. I don’t suppose the offender had “that” in mind ten years earlier either. Maybe he once sat having coffee with a group of friends discussing the same issue. Maybe he was just as shocked about it then as they are now. Maybe he even said, “I would never do that...” And just maybe his pride was the first warning of the slide to come. “Pride goes before a fall” the Scripture says. Consider Lot, for instance...

Lot was a relative of the patriarch Abraham. When God called the older man to leave his home and go to the land of promise, Lot went along with him. The New Testament calls Lot a righteous man so we know he too had faith in God (the Biblical prerequisite to being called righteous); very likely his travels with his uncle started out honorably.

As these two men increased in wealth, the area in which they lived became too small for their large herds. Soon their herdsmen started quarreling. Abraham didn’t want that, so he took Lot to a hill that overlooked the whole area and gave him his choice, either the well-watered eastern valley or the land of Canaan to the west.

The valley had the greener grass. Perhaps Lot thought he deserved the best pasture. He didn’t hesitate; he left Abraham and settled in the Jordan Valley, seemingly without any concern that he would be living close to Sodom and Gomorrah, two cities filled with wicked people. 

The next thing we read about Lot, he is living right in Sodom. He is even “seated in the gates” indicating he is involved in leadership. At first that sounds good. After all, maybe this righteous man will influence those evil people for God; but it doesn’t work out that way.

The people of those two cities continue in their sin. Finally, God decides to destroy them but first He tells Abraham. Abraham prayerfully intercedes for Lot and his family, then God sends angels to tell Lot to take his wife, two daughters, and their husbands, and get out immediately.

But they don’t want to go. They like Sodom. Lot’s words don’t carry any weight with them. In fact, neither son-in-law will listen to him. Finally he leaves with the women, but his wife disobeys the angel, turns and looks back at the home she didn’t want to leave, and is destroyed.

The daughters (brought up by a “righteous” man, remember) decide that the family name is doomed. So they come up with a plan to continue the line of Lot; they get their father drunk, commit incest with him and become pregnant. And that is the last we hear about Lot.

Way back in those early days, when Abraham and Lot started out in faith on that great adventure of finding the promised land, I’m sure Lot didn’t have any inclination or plan to become a disrespected citizen of an evil city. I doubt if the thought of incest ever entered his head. But he made a wrong choice, a choice possibly based on greed. From there, it became increasingly easier to make wrong choices until finally he was committing gross sin.

As for us, it is easy to sit in judgment, to look at the messy lives around us and say, “I’d never do that...” Maybe we wouldn’t. Then again, Lot didn’t think his pride would grease the slide either.

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