J. N. Manokaran
Decision-making is crucial for any individual; it is more so for a family. Wise decisions would build up the family. Foolish decisions could destroy or ruin the family. As family, husband and wife would have to take many decisions. Some of the decisions will impact the family for years. A decision, like choice of school, would have life-long impact for children. So, it is important to take wise decisions. There is one family in the Scripture who took a series of foolish decisions that ruined their family. The series of decisions by Lot were absurd and harmful for the family.
Call Or Imitation
Obeying God’s call, Abraham commenced his journey to the Promised Land, without knowing the exact destination. Lot, his nephew, accompanied him in this crucial journey (Gen. 12:4).Was his decision based on faith? Was it an adventure trip? There is a Tamil proverb, “When a peacock dances in the rain, the turkey tries to imitate it.” A turkey looks awkward when it dances. If Abraham was a peacock, Lot was the turkey that tried to imitate the peacock. Without ascertaining the call for his family, Lot took a bold step and travelled with Abraham. Indeed it was a risky decision. While we are sure of Abraham’s decision, we cannot ascertain the basis for Lot’s decision.
As Abraham prospered, Lot also prospered. Both had huge cattle, sheep and servants to manage them. The servants of Abraham and Lot had frequent fights. Abraham suggested that they should part company and allowed Lot to choose his area for possession. Lot looked and found Zoar, which was near Sodom and Gomorrah, as fertile. So he chose that area near Jordan(Gen.13:10). The choice of Lot was based on the external realities, rather than inner realities. He did not enquire about the people of the land or take into consideration other aspects like the culture, belief and values of the people who dwelt in those areas.
His choice was ‘prosperity,’ not righteousness or justice. He did not have any spiritual consideration for his future, family or children.
Warning That Went Unheeded
God was gracious to warn Lot. Four kings invaded Sodom and Gomorrah. They looted the cities and took away Lot as captive. One of the servants who escaped informed Abraham. Immediately Abraham took his 318 trained men and pursued them and rescued Lot and his family, and brought them back (Gen. 14:5-16).
This crisis should have made Lot to reflect, consider and repent of his foolish choice and be reconciled with Abraham.But it did not. Lot was a righteous man and wanted to lead a righteous life, but was tormented by his environment, which was his own choice (2Pet.2:6-8). He gradually started to compromise and lost his discernment for righteous values. So he was unable to make right choices. One compromise leads to another. He continued to stay in an environment that was not conducive for his spiritual life or for his family.
Spiritual nurture and growth of all family members is the supreme priority for a couple. They cannot compromise on this. Without spiritual growth and nurture, they cannot lead a God-pleasing life.
Compromising With The Wicked
Lot got two visitors to his home. However, the wicked men in the city wanted to have sex with them; this was an abomination in the sight of God (Gen.19:3-5). Lot again wanted to compromise with the wicked men by offering his two virgin daughters, instead of his guests (Gen.19:8).Nevertheless one of the visitors blinded the eyes of those wicked men who were at the door and they had to leave.
The visitors asked Lot to gather his relatives so that they could be rescued. Lot went to his would-be sons-in-law, requesting them to accompany him to flee from God’s judgement. These young men had neither discernment nor spiritual maturity to understand the grave situation. They thought Lot was joking (Gen.19:14).The choice of life partners by Lot for his daughters was wrong. Abraham sent his manager to get wife for Isaac from his people, who lived 500 or so miles away. Lot chose bridegrooms from among the local people, whom he knew were not people of God. Their culture, beliefs and faith were not compatible with those of Lot. Maybe, Lot had considerations other than spiritual for choosing local lads who did not have faith in Jehovah.
God wanted to save Lot and his family from judgement. But Lot was not eager to get out of the comfort of the city.” When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, ‘Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!’” (Gen.19:16-17).
Lot pleaded that he could not run that far and wanted God to allow him to go into a city nearby (Gen.19:18).The merciful God granted his request again. They ran into the city that was called Zoar. However, Lot’s wife looked back, violating God’s command and became a pillar of salt (Gen.19:26).
Lot compromised again. He did not run for life. He compromised by choosing a city, that was not righteous, to live. He chose a city as his refuge, instead of fleeing from sin and unrighteousness. In this process, he lost his wife.
God wanted to deliver his whole family, including Lot’s sons-in-law. However, Lot was not able to convince his sons-in-law. Later, he lost his wife who reluctantly ran for life. Lot always operated on ‘sight’ instead of ‘faith.’
Choice Out Of Fear
Lot was afraid to live in the city of Zoar. It was Lot who chose the city as refuge for his family. Maybe, he became depressed after losing his wife. He and his two daughters went to the mountains and they started living in a cave (Gen.19:30). Lot lost all his property, wife and all possessions. He could have taken his two daughters and gone to Abraham. He did not want to repent and reconcile with Abraham. Instead, he chose to live in a cave with two daughters.
Children Also Compromise
His two daughters had not seen great role models in the society. They also operated by sight, without spiritual discernment. The daughters decided to bear children by making their father drunk and getting pregnant through him. Lot was drunk and had sex with his daughters, not knowing what he was doing (Gen.19:33-38).
Moab was the son of Lot through the eldest daughter. He became the father of the Moabites. These people were always fighting against Israel (descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob). Ben-Ammi was the son through the second daughter and his descendants were known as the Ammonites. The Moabites and the Ammonites were barred from worshipping the Lord (Deut.23:3-5). The decision of the two daughters of Lot was based on lack of faith and was unrighteous. The two daughters did not know the values or sense of morality.
The study of Lot’s family provides important principles for making decisions. First, family decisions should be based on faith, not sight. It is not possible to fake faith or the call of God. Second, materialism, consumerism, or carnal comforts should not be the priority, but the righteousness and kingdom of God. Third, choosing a place to live and work should be done very carefully. The environment should not suck a Christian and take him to the bottomless pit. Four, it is wise to maintain good relationships with godly people. Lot distanced himself from Abraham and did not go to him for help during crisis, even though he rescued them during war. Five, when God warned them to flee from sin, they should have run for life, but chose a place that was not a complete detachment from sin. Six, Lot’s daughters were not taught ‘righteousness’ and they made foolish choices.
How To Make Good Decisions?
The Lord Jesus Christ commended Mary for making a good decision. ”Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Lk.10:41,42). First, Martha was worried about non-essentials. She was involved in too many things. Unfortunately, she did not have the priorities right. Second, Mary had the discernment to make better choices. There will be more than one option in most circumstances. The second best is the enemy of the best. We have to make responsible, mature and wise choices. Third, Mary had a long term perspective. She chose that would not be taken away from her. Wise family decisions should have a long-term perspective.
Decision-making in family life is really a challenge. However, with the help of word of God and the Spirit of God we can make wise decisions to build our families.