You know the old expression about getting the cart before the horse?
Well, I think that’s what happened when I recently wrote my post about how reluctant Lot was to leave Sodom. In spite of all the evil that surrounded him there and the coming destruction of the city, he lingered.
However, if we back up a few chapters in our Bible, we get a better feel for how Lot made decisions. I think that makes his hesitation a lot clearer.
You likely remember that Abram’s and Lot’s herdmen were arguing about the lack of land for their animals to graze on. Here was Abram’s solution.
“And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.” (Genesis 13:8-9)
It’s decision time for Lot. Does he pray about which way to go? It’s not recorded that he did. Here’s what we do know.
“And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.” (Genesis 13:10-11)
Wow – like the Garden of Eden! Having just been to the Grand Canyon, I know what it feels like to be moved by the beauty of a great view. And seeing all that fertile land must have looked like hitting the jackpot if you want your flocks of animals to prosper.
In the world’s eyes, Lot just made a brilliant decision. From a human standpoint, we’d say, “Lot, you’re sure to be successful! You’ve got these beautiful fields for your animals to graze on. You’re close to a city where you can purchase anything you could need or want. You and your family can enjoy the finer side of life.”
Then we read this in Genesis 13:12-13.
“Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.”
When we first read about Lot’s decision, we see what looks good in the here and now. What we don’t see right away is the end of the story. We couldn’t necessarily predict how Lot’s decision would affect his life, and the life of his entire family. If we could know in Genesis 13 how the sad and sordid story would play out in Genesis 19, we certainly would have warned Lot. We’d ask him to reconsider his decision.
What about Abram, left with what must have looked like the inferior option. Was he discouraged when he saw what he was left with? I don’t know. But isn’t God faithful, in the very next verses, to remind Abram of the promise He’d made to him? In spite of what the world might think – perhaps that he got the raw end of the deal – God knew the end of the story. He knew that Abram would be blessed.
“And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever….Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the Lord.” (Genesis 13:14-18)
So how do you and I make our decisions? Are we tempted to be like Lot and take the option that looks like it will benefit us the most right now?
The Bible says that the wisdom of the world is “foolishness with God.” (I Corinthians 3:19) We have to think past the now, the present, to where this may potentially lead us and our families. Our choice has to be based on more than what looks good today. Our decisions impact our children. We can’t see the end of the story from where we are currently, but God can.
I think we know where to start. Prayer. It’s back to James 1:5, and asking for the wisdom God promises to give.
Then get wise counsel. Those who’ve been doing life for a longer time and in a Godly manner may be able to see ahead in ways that we can’t. When we’re wrapped up in a difficult situation, we can lose perspective. I have to wonder if Lot’s story would have had a different ending had he asked Abram’s advice on what to do.
Finally, let’s make decisions using our “future” eyes instead of our “now” eyes. What seems to be the easiest or most obvious choice to make today may not be the best decision in the long run. Think through how your decision could play out, both positively and negatively.
As we seek God’s will, may our story end like Abram’s did in this chapter – resting in God’s promises, and with a heart ready to worship Him.