So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside the he said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.” (Genesis 19:17)
But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:26)
For those that don’t know the story of Lot he was Abraham’s nephew who resided in the city of Sodom. One night two angels came to the town to find anyone that was righteous to see if the town could be saved from God’s judgment. Lot brought these angels into his home and when the town wanted to harm them Lot was willing to sacrifice his two virgin daughters to satisfy the desires of the mob that were surrounding his home. He didn’t think about giving himself up to the mob. He didn’t think about how that would traumatize his daughters. His only thought was to keep the mob from breaking into his home. Now granted he was trying to save the angels that came to see him but seriously how could he save angels that were only at his house because God sent them. They had the power to save themselves and Lot couldn’t have done anything to help them but yet and still Lot tried.
Isn’t that the story of our lives? We think God needs our help running our lives. Never mind the fact that our track record has proven us to be incapable of making decisions that benefit us. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made a decision thinking it was the right one at the time and looking back I realize that my current situation is a direct consequence of a decision I made previously and I’ve had to eat humble pie because of it. Even now I still struggle with going to God for direction before I decide on something but I’m working at asking God for how He’d handle any given situation.
But it’s not just asking for God’s direction. It’s working at not giving in to the desire or temptation to look back at my past with a longing for what used to be. Lot’s wife looked back even after being warned by God’s angels to do just the opposite. She didn’t know what was going to happen to her but she was so concerned of what she was leaving that she couldn’t see the blessing that was in front of her. Our past, the life we left behind, should be used as a catalyst for our future not an anchor to hold us back.
Yes there will be times when we think about how our life used to be and where it might be had we made one decision over another but considering that we don’t have time machines with the ability to change the past, why dwell on it? Our cars are made with small rearview mirrors that should be used to glance in every once in a while. We were never meant to have our past be larger than our future. So when you start going back down memory lane don’t stay too long-you just might start remembering things as you wish they were instead of how they actually were.
About a month ago I heard a sermon by Chip Ingram where he talked about integrity and honesty. In it he talked about a time when his wife called him out for exaggerating some numbers in a previous sermon he had given. When I heard him say that I thought “what’s the big deal” but the more I listened I realized that it wasn’t about the number but about the reason for the exaggeration. Why do we even feel the need to exaggerate the truth i.e. to lie? Everyday at all times of the day someone lies. It’s either someone we know personally, don’t know personally or it’s us doing the lying. And the sad thing is that most of the lies are about insignificant things or what people would call white lies.
Now I’m not talking about if you’re planning a surprise for someone and you withhold information or tell them something to keep them from the surprise. I’m talking about saying something to another person with the blatant intent of misleading them or to make yourself look better in a situation. I found myself in the latter situation recently at my job. Without going into a lot of details it basically involved the time frame in which I advised the client about an issue with their policy. My boss got involved and when I was telling him the story I said that the date I advised the agent was the same date that I found out knowing that I actually found out earlier but didn’t say anything. Needless to say it was brought to light and I apologized to him for not providing the correct information. Most people would say it wasn’t a big deal but I think it speaks to what was in my heart that caused me to lie in the first place-self preservation and pride.
Both can lead us to tell one lie and then another and then another to the point where we no longer know where the truth ends and the lie begins. I’ve known plenty of people who have made lying so much a part of their lives that it’s difficult for them to remember who what lie they told to what person. And here’s the thing at the end of the day even though you’re saying the words to another individual the real person you are lying to is yourself and to God. Lies keep us in bondage and that’s the last thing God wants. He wants us to be men and women of integrity. I mean, image what would happen if we valued our words as much as we value money? if we treated our words like a precious jewel? The says that there is life and in death in our words. Why not speak life (truth) instead of death (lies)?
After that encounter with my boss I realized that I wanted my words to be more than just words. I want them to be a reflection of my heart and I want my heart to be a reflection of Jesus. Do I always succeed? No. But I am grateful for God’s mercy for those times when I stumble.
My prayer for us all is to remember that no one and I mean no one is perfect except the Lord Jesus Christ and that speaking words of integrity is a day by day process. If your heart desires to speak the truth God will give you the grace to do it.