One thing I’m sure I was told, but didn’t understand when I was younger is that the people you choose to surround yourself with makes a HUGE impact on your life – on your spiritual life first, which will then trickle into every area of your life.
We read in Proverbs 9:10 that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. What does that mean? How is it possible that fearing God makes us wise?
We know that believers have no reason to be afraid of the judgment of God, so the fear I’m talking about here is an overwhelming reverence and awe for God. We understand that He’s with us every moment, and that understanding helps us to submit our thoughts, words and actions to God. This submission to God because of the reverence we have for Him is the beginning of wisdom, why? Because it protects us from thinking, saying or doing things that we shouldn’t be doing.
My aunt once told me that she had an intercom in her office (used for paging people in the clinic where she works), and she forgot that it was on one day and only realized hours later that everyone in the office could hear every word that came out of her mouth that day. They teased her about it later, but she was saying she kept trying to think of the conversations she had with her employees and on the phone that day.
Some of you may have had the experience of accidentally calling someone on the phone and talking to someone else not realizing that they can hear you…and most of us have had the experience of sending a text about someone to the person you were talking about instead of to the person you’re talking TO. If you’ve been in this situation, you understand the seriousness of being careful with your words… In a much more serious way, God can hear every thought and word and we’ll have to answer for them one day.
Let’s compare the lives of two men to illustrate how important it is to submit every decision and relationship to the Lord.
It is absolutely necessary in spiritual life to walk by faith and not sight. In Genesis, we see Abraham and his nephew Lot. When God called Abram, he followed God and took Lot with him. After awhile, with all the flocks and herds that both of them had, the land could no longer support them, so they had to separate. Abram gave Lot the choice, and in Genesis 14:10 we see that Lot lifted up his eyes and chose the land that looked good to him.
In our worldly way of thinking, Abram got the “left over” land, and Lot took the desirable land that would help him comfortably take care of his family and flock. How about us? Do we apply the same logic in our lives as Lot? Do we make decisions based on practicality? Do you simply make decisions based on your comfort and desires? Lot’s foremost desire was to take care of himself. Does that sound familiar at all to you?
A couple of verses later (vs.13) we see that Lot ended up pitching his tent in a place where he was surrounded by exceedingly wicked men who sinned against the Lord. The one bad thing that is mentioned here about Lot’s choice is that he was surrounded by wicked people.
In the very next verse (v.14) we see the Lord instructing Abram to look ALL AROUND him. God promises Abram all the land that he can see in every direction. North, east, south and west – all of the land would be given to him ad his descendants forever. Make no mistake, when the Lord gives, He gives abundantly.
If you are someone who is asking the Lord before you make decisions, you can be sure that God will take care of you. He will be able to use you for the purpose for which He created you. I’m not giving you the prosperity gospel here… Your life may not seem successful to the world or successful compared to your believing friends, but you will be blessed and able to have peace regardless of that.
Abraham’s God is the same God you and I call “Father” today, but can we identify with Abraham in that he went regardless of where he was being led? I know for me personally, I like to have as much control as I can over my life. But Abraham had such a close relationship with God that he was able to trust him.
The condition of the people on earth at the time of Abraham and Lot is found in Romans 1:18-32. I want you to think about the friends you surround yourselves with.
They knew God but did not give Him the glory due to His name or thank Him
Their thinking was useless
Their foolish minds were filled with darkness
They traded the glory of God to worship idols
They were engaged in sexual sin
They were full of jealousy, murder, fighting, lying and thinking the worst about each other
They gossiped and said evil things about each other
They hated God
They were rude and conceited
They bragged about themselves
They invented ways of doing evil
They did not obey their parents
They were foolish and did not keep their promises
They showed no kindness or mercy to others
They knew what Gods law said, that those who live like this should die. But they themselves not only continued to do these evil things, but they applauded those who did them.
Any of those characteristics sound familiar?
Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.
do not be fooled. Bad friends will ruin good habits.
1 Corinthians 15:33
If you are keeping friends who possess these qualities, you probably possess some of them too. Maybe you’re not in deep yet, but as time wears on, you can be sure that you will become more and more ensnared. I’ve tried to walk that thin tight rope, and I can tell you from experience, eventually you’ll fall over. It’s impossible to keep bad company and remain untouched by it.
Lot looked around and saw in his flesh that the plain of Jordan would sustain him comfortably. He forgot that he had already been following a God who had blessed him with everything he already had and sustained him. At the moment of that decision, he had no consideration for the spiritual, no thought of seeking God’s direction and no consideration for Abraham. His sole goal was to take care of himself the best way he knew how. This seemingly small decision drastically altered Lot’s future. How about you? How do you make decisions?
Do you consider how joining a club will alter your future? Do you consider God’s direction when applying to University? Do you ask God before you spend money on stuff or have conversations with people? These things seem pretty insignificant to most of us. In our flesh, there are things that will make a lot of sense, but even seemingly small decisions can sometimes turn out to be life altering.
There is NOTHING more important in this life than knowing God…nothing.
Abraham enjoyed a friendship with God. He enjoyed fellowship and communion with Him. Because of this, he was able to save Lot’s life on two different occasions, He was able to have a child after he turned a hundred years old and He is the patriarch of God’s chosen people. He knew God, and knew that He could trust God. He understood that God wanted better for Abraham than Abraham wanted for Abraham.
What is the point of your life?
I remind my Sunday School class often that the purpose of life is to know God and make Him known. If you guys are unsure of what the point of all of this is…life, school, work, church, marriage, children…whatever your lot, the point is to know Him and to make Him known. If you don’t know Him, then you won’t know what He’s wanting you to do when you ask him about “big” decisions in your life. And you won’t realize that He wants to help you make the best decisions even for the “small” things. When it comes to friends, relationships, school, work and whatever else in our lives, God wants better for us than we want for ourselves! How comforting is that thought?
I am one of those people who struggled to have a quiet time for most of my life. When I DID have it, I thought that reading the Bible and praying quickly was a good job well done and I could check that obligatory thing of my to-do list. When I finally realized that my relationship with God could be a real relationship where I could hear Him speak to me, and I could speak to Him, everything changed.
Society will tell you that you have to do everything you can to succeed and prosper in this life, but looking at Abraham’s and Lot’s lives, we can see the flaw in that way of thinking.
Both Abraham and Lot are called “righteous” in the Bible.
Abraham’s place in history is established:
Abraham believed God, and God accepted Abraham’s faith, and that faith made him right with God. And Abraham was called God’s friend.
In 2 Peter 2:7-8 we see that Lot was “vexed” with the filthy conversation of the wicked. His soul was vexed day to day with their unlawful deeds. So we see that Lot didn’t like what he saw going on around him, but that attitude was not enough. His son in laws didn’t take him seriously when he told them that the judgment of God was coming on Sodom and Gomorrah, his wife got caught up in the material blessings and comforts that that place offered her (and got turned into a pillar of salt), his daughters were able to make him drunk and commit incest with him. And they both bore his children.
Lot was comfortable for a time, but he lost his wife, his family and the wealth and worldly success that he so desired. The only thing he didn’t lose was his soul. Do you think he thought it was worth it? How about you?
Know Him. Evaluate your relationships. Make changes if necessary. Make your decisions in faith and not by sight. It will be worth it.