Religion Without the Blessed Life
Genesis 13:5-9
And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.…

In this story of the blessed life nothing can be more striking and instructive than the contrast which it presents between the career of Lot and that of Abraham. See at the outset how differently the two men come before us. "Now the Lord had said unto Abraham" — or, as Stephen declares: "The God of glory appeared unto Abraham." Thus God had come into this man's life, its centre and strength. "And Lot also, which went with Abram" — this is the man whose religion is second hand — he goes with the man who goes with God. Nothing is easier than for many of us to do as Lot did. The age is one in which respectability and social position rather like a little religion. Nothing can quench the fire of our selfishness but the clear shining of the Sun of Heaven upon our hearts. The God of glory appeared unto Abraham — that thrust the world back into its right place; that kindled the desires and ambitions of the man; that loosed him from the tyranny of the seen, the narrow prison of the present, and set him at liberty for God. The fadeless glory of that vision ennobled and elevated all the life. But Lot only went with Abraham. Never do you read that he built an altar unto the Lord that appeared to him. The religion of Lot is a religion without the vision of God. For us all the great question is this: What can we do to make the blessed life our own? This is the only answer: Tarry waiting upon God until there be a heart communion with Him. Let us follow the story. And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. That sojourn in Egypt was damaging to Abraham; but it was fatal to Lot. He had seen a land that had kindled his greed; the possibility of his growing rich had seized him and mastered him. That which attracted him in Sodom was that it was like the land of Egypt, well-watered everywhere. The heathenism of Egypt had prepared him for the grosser wickedness of Sodom. His wife and daughters had seen the glitter and gaiety of a company that made the quiet of Abraham's encampment seem very dull. And worst of all, they had seen a good man without his altar and his God; why then need they be so particular? So when the opportunity came, Lot was quite prepared to avail himself of it. "And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle." Lot saw what it pleased him to see. Let us see what the love of gain, which was the ruin of Lot, did for him.

1. It put out the eyes of his generosity. The love of money always does. Abraham gave Lot the choice, and he took it, of course. "Really uncle Abraham is so unworldly and easy going about these things that he does not think of them at all. Besides, he is so very well off that it cannot make any difference to him; but I am only beginning, and it is very important that I should have a good start." Generosity — is it not scouted from the market place? "Business is business, my dear sir; a bargain is a bargain, you know. Generosity is all very well in its place, of course; but this is not its place." Where then is its place? Does any man really believe that he can occasionally put out the eyes of his love — be hard, pitiless, grasping — and then put them in again? He is hardening his heart, toughening it, and narrowing it, and tying it with a double knot every day, like a Judas' leather purse.

2. Again, the love of gain blinded Lot to the very meaning of life. The greatness of Abraham lay in this one thing, that he suffered God to show him the path of life. Each had land, but by the very method of procuring it the one gave up that which abideth, and the other secured it. The one man set the land first, and lost all. The other found all in God. Lot came out of Sodom stripped of his goods, and the man himself more empty and blind than when he had gone into it. This is the great lesson of this Book — that whilst we think of making a living, God is thinking of what our living makes us. That the man is more than all gain. This is the idea of life which runs through the New Testament — it is faith, the service of God, the utter surrender of all to Him. This alone can make life worth living. Choose anything, everything else; live for it, grasp it — and what then but die? Surely we do not need to cry aloud to the Lord for the anointing that we may see aright.

3. And yet further: the god of this world blinded Lot to the true good, whilst it cheated him with the promise of goods. Lot lifted up his eyes and saw the land of Sodom. That bounded his vision. But Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw a promise that stretched through all the ages, and through all lands, a stream of blessing. To Abraham the words were: "To thee and to thy seed"; "I will bless thee;...thou shelf be a blessing." The faith of all those after years has found an inspiration and a triumph in the example of faithful Abraham. But, alas! how sharp, how dreadful is the contrast as we turn to Lot. He comes forth from Sodom without a soul having any faith in him. "He seemed as one that mocked unto his sons-in-law." The only good in life is doing good. That which alone makes life blessed is not what we get from others for ourselves, but in what others get from us. Lot thought he could make the best of both worlds, and he failed alike in each. For Abraham there were not two worlds, but one only: as for every man of God: that is where the will of God is done as it is done in heaven.

(M. G. Pearse.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.

WEB: Lot also, who went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.

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