What are we to think about Abraham’s nephew, Lot?
When you read about Lot in Genesis, most of what we read doesn’t put him in a very favorable light. First, he and his uncle Abraham get sideways about land ownership and grazing rights. Abraham allows lot to take his portion of the promised land, and Lot quickly snatches up what appears to be the most fertile parcel of real estate, without first seeking the Lord and with no regard for his uncle’s welfare. It just so happens the land Lot chooses for himself is adjacent to Sodom and Gomorrah.
Next, Lot is taking captive by neighboring tribal leaders. Abraham and his small band of warriors has to come to the aid of his kinsman and rescue his nephew.
In Genesis 19, when two angels appear in Sodom and are welcomed into Lot’s home, Lot shows his cowardice and lack of faith when he seeks to protect the heavenly visitors from a lust crazed mob by offering his daughters to the mobsters instead. The angels help Lot and his family escape Sodom before God brings judgment on the city. But Lot’s wife ignores the angelic instructions. She looks back on the city as God rains down fire and brimstone, and she is turned into a pillar of salt.
Finally, Lot’s daughters plot to get their father drunk and to lay with him. Both daughters become pregnant, and their offspring – Moab and Ben-ammi – grow up to become enemies of Abraham and his people.
Based on what we read in Genesis, if you were looking for an adjective to describe Lot, righteous would not be the first word that would come to mind. Nothing much about Lot’s story gives even a hint of righteousness.
And yet Peter, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, chooses that exact word to describe Lot. In 2 Peter 2:7-8, he calls him “righteous Lot” and says that his “righteous soul” was exceedingly troubled by the lawless deeds in Sodom.
Righteous Lot? Really?
Two lessons jump out at me from the story of Lot. First, just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, so you can’t know someone’s spiritual condition solely by what you can see. Yes, Jesus said “you shall know them by their fruits.” But Jesus Himself knows us by more than our fruits. He sees the condition of our hearts. He alone can know if the person who appears to be living a righteous life is living for his own glory or for God’s glory. And He alone can know if the person who continually stumbles as he struggles with remaining sin is truly born again.
This is what the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13 teaches us. Just as you can’t tell the difference between a stalk of wheat and the weed right next to it until the harvest comes, so we can’t know the condition of another person’s salvation until the Day of Judgment comes and the Lord of the Harvest comes.
We can (and should) rightly question a profession of faith made by someone who continues in sin and remains unrepentant. But we can’t know that person’s heart. Only God and the person him or herself can know if that person has been born again. We can (and should) warn a person who continues in open, sinful rebellion against God, that he or she is in danger of judgment and hell. But we should be careful to make a pronouncement of judgment. “You’re going to hell” is something only God has the right to say to a person.
The other lesson for me from the life of Lot is that what makes a man righteous is not his own righteous deeds, but the gift of divine righteousness that God gives to whomever He pleases.
What makes Abraham’s nephew righteous is not his own deeds, but the grace of God given to Lot because of his relationship with Abraham. Remember that Abraham asked God if he would spare the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah if there were 10 righteous people found in those cities? God, of course, destroyed the cities after rescuing Lot and his family. In spite of his failings, God gave the gift of deliverance and righteousness to Lot, sparing him from judgment. Alexander Whyte says “Abraham was the father of the faithful. And Lot, his nephew, was the father of all such as are scarcely saved.”
God’s grace is indeed amazing. We will find in heaven some who were scarcely saved. And we will rejoice in the grace of God opening a way for them into His eternal presence. In the end, we will recognize that without grace, both the prodigals and the self-righteous older brothers have no hope of salvation.
I’ll end with this story.
A number of years ago, I spent an afternoon fishing for trout on the White River. There were three of us in the boat, along with our guide. And in the course of our fishing trip, our guide shared a little bit about his life. His grandfather had been a Pentecostal preacher. He told us he had had four wives and had six DUIs on his record. He had been married to his current wife for 15 years, and he was no longer a drinker he said.
He also told us that he believed in God and that he was trusting in Jesus for his salvation. He shared with us his near-death experience, having almost died in a car wreck. While he was unconscious, he said, he had an experience of being in torment. He said he didn’t feel fire but he saw agony on everyone’s face, and he began to panic and be afraid, when all of a sudden, he was yanked out of his vision. He found himself in the presence of Jesus, who spoke to him and told him he still had things to do on earth.
He finished his story and I asked him “so, did that experience have any lasting impact on your life?” He said he knew he still needed to be making some changes and that he ought to be going to church and that maybe he’d start doing that.
I honestly wondered if he was fishing for a bigger tip at that point.
Now, based on what he shared, should I think our fishing guide is going to be in heaven? Is he like righteous Lot? I have no idea. Only God knows. If I was with him regularly, I’d remind him of the gospel and call him to live a life that is consistent with what he says he believes. And I’d leave the rest up to God.
When someone I know professes faith, I presume they are sincere. Even if their life looks like Lot’s life, I will take them at their word. I won’t shy away from pointing out the inconsistencies between what they say they believe and how they’re living. I will continue to challenge them to repent (or re-repent) and believe (or re-believe) the gospel. And I will entrust them to God, who the Bible tells us it the only one who judges justly.
cole & hannah perkins
Don’t forget while you’re shopping this week to pick up a gift card for Cole and Hannah Perkins and to bring it with you to church this Sunday. Pick a store – Home Depot, Kroger, Walmart – or a restaurant you’d like them to try (I happen to know Slim Chickens is already a favorite), or grab a basic Amazon gift card – and write a welcome note from you along with a few fun facts about you or your family to help them get to know you. Put the note and the gift card in the basket we have for them in the church lobby. That way, we can have a basket of gift cards waiting for them when they arrive on October 22.
trunk -or- treat | sat oct 29
| And don’t forget to pick up a bag or two of candy to help us stock up for the upcoming Trunk or Treat event on Saturday night, October 29.|
As always, we are grateful for your generosity!
legacy grandparenting summit
|There is still time for you to sign up for the Grandparenting Summit, happening next Saturday, October 22. Click here to register, and use the promo code THANKYOU to see if the discounted registration is still available.|
ladies fall retreat – register now!
|Ladies, circle these dates on your calendar now. The Ladies Fall Retreat is scheduled for November 11-13. You can sign up now to reserve your space.|
men’s first tuesday | nov 1
|And men, make sure you have Tuesday night, November 1 blocked out on your calendar. We’ll meet at church at 6:15 for a chili dinner, and then at 7:00, Pastor Dean Inserra will join us to help us with a discipleship checkup.|
| Jesus ends His Farewell Discourse with an extended time of prayer – what is known as His High Priestly Prayer for the 11 disciples. But before He prays, He concludes His time of instruction by telling these men that their faithfulness to Him is about to be put to the test. Tribulation is coming for them. Are they ready? We’ll see as we wrap up John 16 this week.|
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!