Choices Matter a Lot. Just Ask Lot!

I usually study godly Bible characters to learn about their wise choices. But I’ve also learned a lot from people included in scripture who didn't make such wise choices.

I want us to consider how our daily choices matter by examining the life of one man in the Old Testament.

Abraham's nephew Lot is described as a "righteous man," tormented by the wickedness around him (2 Peter 2:7-8). He was righteous in the sense that, like Abraham, his faith in God was counted to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6). God moved in Lot's life in connection with the Abrahamic covenant.

What happened to Lot?
Though he may have been righteous in his personal life, he loved the world and lived for it and, therefor, had no influence on others.

His downfall was all about his worldly-minded choices. Let's examine six of them.

1. Lot Chose Selfishly
Wealthy Lot and his equally-wealthy uncle, Abraham, examined the well-watered Jordan Valley. They knew they could not dwell together—there was strife between their herdsmen—so they determined to part ways. Abraham offered his nephew the first choice, and Lot jumped at the chance.

With selfishness, greed and a desire for power and influence, Lot moved east and grabbed up the entire Jordan Valley. Abraham ended up in Canaan, west of the Jordan River (Genesis 13:10-11).

Lot could have shown respect for his uncle and allowed him the seemingly better land. But he didn't. His greed overcame any sense of loyalty and respect.

Many of our worst choices originate from the seeds of selfishness.

2. Lot Chose Foolishly
Then, although Lot could have moved anywhere in this fertile area, he chose to move his branch of the family tree to the big cities of the valley. He made his own home in Sodom.
This was a foolish choice, because "the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord" (13:13)

He soon came to regret this choice. Peter says Lot was "driven nearly out of his mind by the sexual filth and perversity... Surrounded by moral rot day after day after day" and was in "constant torment" because of it (2 Peter 2:7-8, The Message).

I want to note, Lot was a God-fearing man just like Abraham, but both men made foolish choices. [Remember Sarai and Hagar, and Abraham's foolish choice considering God's promise of a son? (Genesis 16).] In the same way, people may see you or me as godly, but we can make a lot of foolish choices when we're not walking with God in faith and obedience.

Abraham loved his nephew and interceded for the city of Sodom, knowing it was about to be destroyed (Genesis 18:20-21). Following Abraham's pleading, the Lord told the patriarch he would not destroy Sodom if even 10 righteous people lived there (18:32).

3. Lot Chose Sinfully
Two angels came to Sodom and ended up at Lot's house. The men of the city, "both young and old, all the people to the last man," surrounded Lot's house, demanding Lot turn his visitors over to them to "know" them (meaning, to commit immoral acts with them).
Lot was grieved by their request and begged the Sodom-dwellers to reconsider.
His solution? A sinful choice.

He said, "I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please" (19:8). Lot was more concerned about hospitality and guarding his visitors than protecting the holiness of his own daughters!

His sinful suggestion only made the men of Sodom more determined in their perversion. The visiting angels rescued Lot (19:10) as they struck the men on his doorstep with blindness. The angels told Lot to gather his family and flee, because God was about to destroy the city.

Apparently, there were not even 10 believers in the town.

4. Lot Chose Half-heartedly
Lot's sons-in-law thought he was joking and refused to join Lot and his wife in escaping the judgment. That brought the number of God-fearing people in Sodom down to four!
But the remarkable thing to me is Lot's reaction to the angel's words to get out of town (19:16).

"He lingered."

His heart was still in wicked Sodom. As a wealthy man with property, he had a lot invested there. He didn't make a strong choice of faith; instead, he lingered, emotionally divided and seemingly powerless to resist the pull of this wicked city.

The angels had to grab his hand, along with his wife and daughter's hands, and forcibly bring them out of the city! The Lord was so merciful to Lot (v. 16), just as I know He has been merciful to me when I have lingered in my obedience. I cannot imagine what God has used as "angels"—tough circumstances, perhaps, and disappointments—to save me from myself.

Through the years, God has taught me an important lesson: partial obedience is disobedience!

We need to stop lingering between obedience and disobedience.
We must choose to follow the Lord without hesitation.

5. Lot Chose Fearfully
The angels told Lot to run with his family "to the hills" and escape for their lives. But Lot was afraid the men of Sodom might pursue him there.

Lot operated in the fear of man, not the fear of God.
You would think he would understand how the Lord was rescuing him and had the best route for survival. But in this lapse of fearing (revering) God, Lot begged the angels to allow him to flee to another city. He was still trying to compromise and not leave the area entirely. He wanted to pick out his own refuge instead of fleeing to the sure place of safety the Lord designed for him.

In their flight from Sodom, Lot's wife disobeyed the angels' commands and suffered her own consequence (19:17, 26); but Lot and his daughters ended up at the tiny city of Zoar. They watched as the Lord rained down "sulfur and fire" out of heaven, destroying everything surrounding Sodom, even what grew on the ground.

(When I think about Lot's compromise and fear, I admit there are areas in my life where want to stay close enough to my sin issues to nudge them for my own purposes instead of fleeing from them completely. But if I hear the word of the Lord in this, it is "Run for your life!")

6. Lot Chose by Not Choosing
Eventually, Lot and his daughters left Zoar "because he was afraid of the people there" (19:30).

Lot's daughters were no doubt influenced by Sodom. Apparently, Lot did not proactively choose to live in wisdom after leaving that wicked city, and his daughters' sinful and foolish choices in a mountain cave somewhere beyond Zoar reveal he likely did not sufficiently passed on biblical wisdom to his daughters either (19:30-36).

In effect, Lot chose to walk away from God, because he did not proactively choose to walk with Him.

In my journey with the Lord, I've discovered the greatest deterrents to making ineffective or hurtful choices is to allow the Word of God to renew my mind and the Holy Spirit to control my life (Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 5:16).

Choices are no small thing. As my friend Pam Farrel says, "We make our choices, and our choices make us." 

We can learn many lessons from Lot and upgrade our faith and obedience.
It wasn't just one choice that destroyed righteous Lot's influence on his family and community, and brought him to the end of his life filled with regrets. It was a whole series of choices, and every choice mattered.

Are you making sinful, foolish choices that might slowly destroy your effectiveness for Christ? What positive, God-honoring and wise choices can you start making today?

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