In our article last week, we considered both the positive and negative aspects of Lot’s life. We learnt of Lot’s failure as a witness for the Lord because he walked by sight and not by faith. Given the first pick of the land by his uncle Abraham, Lot chose the “well-watered” Jordan plain for its material advantages and conveniences. He failed to consider the needs of his soul. We are told that Lot “pitched his tent toward Sodom” the sin city whose inhabitants “were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly” (Gen 13: 12-13).
Though he lived in the notorious city of Sodom, Lot did not follow its multitude to do evil. The apostle Peter portrays Lot as a “just” and “righteous” man whose soul was vexed daily by the wickedness around him (II Pet 2: 6-9). Matthew Henry aptly commented: “God does not account men just or unjust from one single act, but from their general course of life.”
Though Lot was accounted “just” and “righteous”, he lived a fruitless and unprofitable life. Let us look further into the other causes of Lot’s failure as a believer:
2. He compromised with the world
After pitching “his tent toward Sodom”, Lot soon moved to live in the wicked city itself. We read in the next chapter that Lot was among those captured by marauding kings who invaded Sodom and conquered it: “And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed” (Gen 14: 12).
Upon hearing the news, Lot’s uncle, Abraham, with a small army of 318 “trained servants” pursued the kings and overpowered them (Gen 14: 14-15): “And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people” (v 16). Sadly, after the Lord’s gracious deliverance through his uncle, Lot returned to his life in Sodom. He seemed to have taken God’s mercies for granted.
Though Lot’s righteous soul was grieved by the city’s sin, he accommodated the ungodly lifestyle of his neighbours. Instead of confronting their sin, he conformed to their worldly ways. When the two angels visited the godless city, Lot was sitting “in the gate of Sodom” (Gen 19: 1).
Many commentators believe that, because the city gate was the seat of justice, Lot might have been holding a prominent position in the community. Matthew Henry, however, suggested another reason for Lot’s presence at the gate – that while his neighbours were drinking and merry-making, Lot was sitting at the gate waiting to do good. That was why when he saw the two angels, he bowed himself to the ground and extended hospitality to them (Gen 19: 2-3). Whatever the reason, Lot had, along the way, compromised with the world in order to be accepted by the people of Sodom. Instead of disassociating himself from them and leaving the city, he chose the path of compromise. Consequently, Lot’s life had no influence upon his wicked neighbours.
Lot’s weak faith drew none to follow his God. So ineffective was his witness that he failed even to reach his immediate family. We are told that when Lot appealed to his sons-in-law to leave the city, “he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law” (Gen 19: 14). Unaccustomed to hearing such warnings of divine judgment from Lot’s lips, these family members thought it was a big joke. Apparently, they did not see Lot as a man of faith and did not believe his warning to flee from the wrath to come. Lot’s worldly compromise had not won a single soul for the Lord.
One writer aptly commented: “Whatever Lot was accomplishing in Sodom, it was certainly not evangelism, not even in his own family.”
When the Lord revealed His intention to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham pleaded with God to spare the city for the sake of the righteous. Abraham had expected that, because of his nephew’s witness, there should be at least “fifty righteous within the city” (Gen 18: 24). Perhaps Abraham had in mind Lot’s own household including his family, herdsmen and servants.
Encouraged by God’s repeated concessions, Abraham continued to intercede for the lawless city (Gen 18: 23-32). The Lord’s final response to His faithful servant was: “I will not destroy it for ten’s sake” (v 32). At this point, Abraham left off his entreaty and “returned unto his place” (v 33). The fact that Sodom was not spared tells us that there were not even ten righteous in it. This shows that Lot had failed miserably in his witness among his neighbours.
Like Lot, Christendom today is on a spiritual decline. With rising ecumenism, present-day churches have embraced worldliness as never before. They want to make the church attractive to the world. To reach people for Christ, they strive to soften the Gospel message and provide entertainment during the worship service. These churches’ attempts to make Christ palatable to worldly tastes will only result in failure, as seen through Lot’s example.
Lot’s compromise with the world made him a poor and ineffective testimony for the Lord. Let us ask ourselves: “Do we go along with the world in the way we conduct ourselves? Can others see Christ in us?”
As Christians, we are exhorted to “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt 5: 16). May the Lord grant us grace to be loyal to Him and to shine forth His light in this dark and perverse world. May the Lord be pleased to draw souls to Him through our faithful witness each day.
(… to be concluded)