Both Abraham and Lot worshiped the same God, but their testimonies are very different. Abraham had the reputation of walking with God, in so far as God called him friend. But Lot’s position was not so exalted. He may have had high hopes of changing Sodom’s wicked direction to one that was more moral, but in the end he had to be “rescued… a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard” – see 2Peter 2:7-8 NIV).
What can we say of this? What are we able to say about Lot and others like him… are they saved? I have to say yes, although years ago in my walk with the Lord, my reply would have been different. Our salvation is not based upon our performance (1Corinthians 3:15) and neither was Lot’s. We were created to be the image of God in his creation (Genesis 1:27), but no matter how well we do in this department, we shall not do it perfectly. The difference between Abraham and Lot was a matter of degree. No one is perfect, but God looks upon the heart (1Samuel 16:7; 1Chronicles 28:9; Revelation 2:23). It is not a matter of how well we do, but whether or not our hearts are bent toward God. Lot’s heart was bent towards God, as was Abraham’s, but Abraham’s walk was closer to God and was known to be God’s friend. Lot’s walk, although toward God, was influenced by worldly matters. His idea of making the world a more suitable, perhaps more moral place didn’t fit into God’s plan to create a new heaven and a new earth (2Peter 3:7, 11-13).
The story of Lot brings to light the significance of the choices we make in this life as they apply to the consequences we shall bear in the life to come. Lot was saved from God’s judgment upon Sodom, but not from the consequence of the choice he made to share in Sodom’s power and riches that ultimately opposed the Lord’s plans. What did Lot end up losing? He lost all those things he spent his life to gain. In other words, although he was saved (God’s grace), he had no reward (based upon his works). He had no testimony worthy of mention. He lost his wife and all he owned in this world. He had no friends and his descendents ended up opposing God’s people. What a legacy to bring into the next life!
I believe the lesson the Lord wants us to take from the story of Lot is that he simply wants us to trust him. We shouldn’t try to manipulate people or events of our world, because God doesn’t need our help. Rather, it was Abraham’s devotion to God that taught those in his realm of influence about God. On the other hand, Lot seemed to acquire some importance in Sodom by being in the gate of the city (Genesis 19:1), and ended up being a judge or ruler of the people (Genesis 19:9). In the New Testament friendship with the world (James 4:4) has to do with familiarity with the world. The Old Testament uses friendship only once in the KJV and it is found in Proverbs 22:24 and tells us not to be friends with an angry man. The Hebrew word (H7462), however, is a much richer word, having many applications including shepherd, feed, pastor and companion. I wonder if God isn’t telling us that it is futile to try to shepherd or pastor the world. All we would end up doing is feeding its choices—that is, empower its way that is opposed to God.
Lot made many wrong choices from which we can learn. He wanted the best of both worlds—blessing from God and communion with the world. Desiring to be liked by the world is inherent in us all. We often speak like the world, dress like the world and entertain ourselves as the world does. Some of these things aren’t wrong in themselves, but I think we need to look again and reconsider our choices, to see if we have more in common with Lot or with Abraham. It is all a heart issue, and the end of the day we need to ask ourselves, if we are known for being different in any way. If so, does this difference point others to God?