God calls Lot righteous… but here is something we need to understand: we can be saved, we can be a Christian, we can get to heaven - yet we can still make mistakes here on earth that cost us a lot. In Lot’s case there is tragedy, and it’s all related to greed.
We think about greed like it’s a character flaw and not that big of a deal. We compare it to someone being arrogant, which is irritating, but with a low level of actual destruction. If you look up the word “greed” and see how Scripture takes it, you’ll find it is much more serious than we normally consider it to be. It’s consistently in the list with murder and child abuse and it makes the cut as one of the big “sins” we can participate in. It can destroy us; it can really mess up our families; it’s more like C4 than silly putty.
The Gravity of Greed
When Lot and Abram separate for economic reasons, Lot enters a progression that is harmful to his family (and himself) related to greed and economic gain. First, he moves “near” Sodom, which was an evil place, but it wasn’t so much that he moved there as it was “why” he moved there. For greed. Later, when he is kidnapped by rival city states, it says that Lot and his family were living “in” Sodom.
We’ve moved from “near” to “in.”
When the angels come to rescue Lot and his family, to literally take him by the hand and physically pull him out of the city, they find him “in the gates.” That (and another reference calling Lot a judge) implies that Lot was now one of the civic leaders of Sodom. He had become part of a ruling council or a judge, if you will. We’ve moved from near evil, to living in the midst of evil, to actively participating in a culture that was unapologetically evil and wrong. When the angels tell him to run… Lot lingers. The pull of greed is a strong one. And it wasn’t just Lot, this impacted his family as well.
When Lot’s wife looked back, it wasn’t just a look, it was a turning back and a turning away from God in a final way. She wanted the things greed and selfishness could give her more than she wanted salvation… more than she wanted her husband… more than she wanted her children. Even in the midst of judgment… even in the presence of angels she turned away. It’s the gravity of greed and it is tragic.
The Greed Test
Remember that the point of this story is a warning for us, we’re not just reading Lot’s mail here. So ask yourself these questions honestly and let God speak to us about where we are related to greed and decision making.
- Do I make decisions on financial impact alone?
- Do I put financial opportunities above family and health?
- Do I experience destination sickness?
- Would I rather be a liar than be poor?
- Do I have a history of conflict over money?
- Do I plan to be generous someday?
So what do we do?
1 Timothy 6:6-12 But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
If we read Timothy through the lens of Lot, it is harrowing isn’t it? A man that has pierced himself with many griefs. Truly.
The way to finish well is to take the heart of Abraham in this story. Just follow some of the things that stand out to see a pattern of selflessness and generosity:
- To follow God in faith even when we don’t know exactly where that leads.
- To be generous when we are blessed and to give up battling for position that benefits us.
- To trust God with our finances even when there isn’t a clear payback.
- To fight for those who have been kidnapped by their own bad decisions… to go get them… and don’t seek to take advantage of that situation.
- Like Abraham we need to focus on our own calling, finding faith when we’re too old and too tired and the promise doesn’t make sense anymore.
- We need to fight for the salvation and redemption of people even when they are so far gone we think they are beyond saving. Because it wasn’t 50 people, or 20 people or 10. There was one righteous man in Sodom and the heart of the gospel is seeing that God went in there after him with angels.
Run away from greed. Press into a life of faith and giving. God has amazing things for you – don’t let them get away!