Wired for One
Lot is the story of the guy who tried to have it both ways. We think of him as the bad guy who had to be rescued out of the wicked city of Sodom, not once, but twice. He’s the gut who selfishly took Abraham’s best land. He’s a guy who offered his daughters to the wicked people of Sodom. He’s the guy who had sons by those two daughters.
Not a good guy. Not a guy you’d name your kid after. Definitely not a role model.
But here’s the strange thing about Lot. In the New Testament, Peter calls Lot righteous. Not once, but three times (2 Peter 2:7). It makes you scratch your head. What’s this all about?
There are two main things we learn from the story of Lot’s life. One is about the character of Lot. On the one he believed God and it was “counted to him for righteousness.” He had faith, like his Uncle Abraham, in the promise of a coming Messiah. This faith secured his place among the righteous. More on that later.
On the other hand, Lot loved what he loved. The Scriptures tell us in Genesis 13 that when he saw the city of Sodom, it reminded him of two cities: Eden and Egypt. Eden was the land of his ancestor Adam, that dreamy place where man and God walked, where the fruit was luscious and nature lived in perfect harmony. This was where God intended man to live before man chose sin. Now, Eden is but a dream. Sodom also reminded Lot of Egypt, the place he had just been, where it seemed riches and wealth and luxury flowed.
In Lot’s mind, he could worship both Eden and Egypt, God and man. He could synchronize two loves. But the problem with this theory is that it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because God has only wired the human heart to love one thing. One lover will occupy your thoughts. One master will rule over you.
It’s not a matter of whether you will worship or sacrifice or give. It’s a matter of which idol you choose. Lot thought he could love God and the world. That always only crowds out God. And so Lot began his downward descent with a bad idea. He learned, at the end of his life, that the world is a poor master and a lousy lover. It took his purity, his integrity, his wealth, his home, his wife, his friends, his sons-in-law. Took it all. Was it worth it? Nope. Better to live like Abraham, set apart for God.
Today there are many young people who think like Lot. They believe Jesus, but want the world. They raise their hands in worship to Jesus on Sunday, and bow their bodies in worship to their idols on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. They try to synchronize the world’s values with the values of the Kingdom. And each time they see their heart slip further away from Jesus.
But this isn’t the only lesson from Lot’s life. It’s not even the most important. Because while Lot was the epitome of a terrible, worldly, ineffective believer, he was still considered righteous by Jesus. Why? How? Not based on Lot’s performance. Lot wasn’t justified by Lot’s goodness. In fact, Lot’s personal character should invite the wrath of God. Except Jesus absorbed that wrath on Lot’s behalf and because of Jesus’ righteousness, that old cowardly scoundrel named Lot is considered righteous.
Doesn’t that give you hope? You’re not so bad that the gospel can’t save you. And even as you walk your Christian life as a believer, you can’t slip up too far that Jesus’ righteousness hasn’t covered. This isn’t an excuse to sin. It’s an invitation to dive more fully into the finished work Jesus did for you.
Because if you’re faith is in Christ, God looks at you, approves, and counts you as righteous.
Daniel Darling is an author, pastor, and public speaker. His latest book is Crash Course, Forming a Faith Foundation for Life. Visit him on Facebook by clicking here, follow on him on Twitter at twitter.com/dandarling, or check out his website: danieldarling.com.