Righteous But Unwise

"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.)" - Genesis 13:10

The story of Abraham and his nephew, Lot, is a familiar one. Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. So, Abraham is a righteous man because of his faith in God. Would you also consider Lot to be a righteous man considering his decision to move to the city of Sodom when he parted ways with his uncle? Some would have their doubts. Nevertheless, the apostle, Peter, considered Lot a righteous man whose righteous soul was tormented by the lawless deeds he saw and heard in Sodom (2 Peter 2:7-8).

Lot is a righteous man but he is not wise. A righteous man is not necessarily always wise. Why do I say that about Lot? Because of the way he went about making his decision.

If you recall the story, Abraham and Lot’s herdsmen quarrelled because there were not enough green pastures for both their livestock. So, they had to part ways. Abraham was magnanimous. He let Lot made the first choice of where to go. Lot chose the plain of River Jordan where the city of Sodom lay. It was an obvious choice as the plain was well-watered and lush with plenty of green pastures.

Sometime later, God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by raining down burning sulphur because of their wickedness and sexual depravity. Homosexuality was rampant in the two cities. But just before the destruction, God sent two angels to rescue Lot and his family.

God saved Lot because he was a righteous person (2 Peter 2:9). But because he was unwise, Lot lost almost everything. He lost his vast wealth and possessions. He lost his wife. She left the city reluctantly. She turned back to look at the city during the flight to safety and was turned into a pillar of salt. His two daughters were saved but something morally tragic happened later. They made their father drunk and committed incest with him. Apparently, the time spent in Sodom had corrupted their minds and perverted their moral values. Each of the daughters gave birth to a son. The once wealthy and respected man had to live the latter part of his life in shame and disgrace.

What is the reason for Lot’s folly?

Genesis 13:10 says that “Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the LORD.” Lot “looked” and “saw” the material abundance and prosperity of Sodom but he ignored its moral bankruptcy. He “saw” the beauty of the land but he failed to discern its rotten spiritual condition. Lot based his decision to relocate on what he “saw.” He did not consider the moral and spiritual aspects of the city. Sadly, he also did not bother to acknowledge the LORD and seek His counsel. It is very unwise of Lot.

Lot had 20/20 vision in the natural. He cannot be faulted for his business acumen. However, our smarts are simply not good enough. It is inadequate. There are other factors that are beyond our control and expectation. We need God’s wisdom and counsel. We desperately need His leading and guidance. You may think that you have everything figured out, but I can tell you that life is full of surprises.

More than that, the crucial lesson here is we cannot afford to ignore the moral and spiritual dimensions of things. Social stability and economic prosperity in a nation or society do not happen in a moral vacuum. Few people are aware that morality underpins its general well-being. We should be cognizant of this fact. A nation ignores the issues of morality – sexual immorality, homosexuality, abortion, dysfunctional families – to its peril. Sodom and Gomorrah are excellent examples.

The same spiritual principle applies to our personal lives. We cannot expect to enjoy God’s favour and blessings if we think and make important decisions like Lot.

Did Lot know about the depravity of Sodom? Surely, he knew but he conveniently ignored it. Like most people, Lot did not think that the moral and spiritual conditions should be factors when considering where to locate his business and family. He thought purely in economic and pragmatic terms.

What about you? How do you make the important decisions in your life like choosing your potential life-partner and job? Do you commit your decision to God and allow Him to guide you? Are you guided by your Christian convictions? Would you compromise on your Christian values?

Pastor Les & Adeline Chua