We thank God and celebrate the growth of our readership in the last 12 months.
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall (1 Corinthians 10:12). Bad company corrupts good character.
much harder to have had plenty and then fall into poverty. History is full of tragic stories of people who earned phenomenal amounts of money and then lost it all.
We might think of George Best, the first true British football celebrity, who was earning £1,000 per week at the end of the 1960s (a lot of money then), but spent the latter part of his life plagued by alcohol problems, and in 1992 filed for bankruptcy.
Or there is world boxing champion Mike Tyson, who earned $400 million in his career, but filed for bankruptcy in 2003 with $23 million debts, And you can Google and find many other tragic cases.
This is by no means a new phenomenon of our celebrity-worshipping age. 4,000 years ago Lot was a very rich man in his younger years. He had so many flocks, herds and tents that there was not enough space for him and his Uncle Abram (another very rich man) to live in the same area (Genesis 13). Yet when he died, he was penniless, fearful, lonely, living in a cave and had got both of his daughters pregnant (Genesis 19:30-37). How did things go so badly wrong?
The Bible attests that Lot was a righteous man (2 Peter 2:7). So how did a righteous man lose all he had and finish his life in such an ignominious way? Bad company! The Bible warns us, “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33) - and Lot is perhaps the saddest example of this in the whole Bible.
It all started when Lot chose to settle in the fertile Jordan plain and pitched his tents near a city called Sodom. That was where his problems began; for the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord (Genesis 13), In the next chapter we find that Lot is living in Sodom, and he and his family are carried off by marauding raiders when the city is captured. They survive only because Uncle Abram comes and rescues them.
There is a proverb in English: Once bitten, twice shy. But not Lot! Despite this horrific experience, he went back and lived in Sodom once again, even though you could not find 10 righteous people in the city – and presumably he and his family counted for four already (Genesis 18:32 and 19). He even let his daughters become engaged to two men who had no interest whatsoever in listening to a warning from God (Genesis 19:14).
God destroyed Sodom in a hail of burning sulphur. But Lot had become so attached to the place that he was reluctant to leave, and he and his family had to be dragged away by angels. The consequences of all this were severe: his wife lost her life because she disobeyed God’s command not to look back at the burning city, and he himself was so traumatised by the experience that he went and lived in solitude in the mountains with his two daughters (Genesis 19).
What can we learn from Lot’s sad experience? We know that the whole world system lies under the evil one; but Jesus keeps us safe, and the evil one cannot touch us (1 John 5:19. However, to benefit from this, we need to stay within the realm of his protection, in the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1).
There are those who are called to work in situations where evil is predominant, such as Jackie Pullinger in the infamous Walled City of Hong Kong; but that needs a clear call from God and a lot of support from family and friends. It is not something to be undertaken lightly.
We can easily over-estimate our strength and staying power. We might say, It’s no problem for me spending all my time with people who have no time for God; I can witness to them. But they will inevitably have an influence on us too.
Are we strong enough to withstand it? Lot thought that he was in Sodom. But although he was distressed by the filthy lives of the lawless men there and was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard (2 Peter 2:7-8), something of the terrible evil in that place got into his being. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall (1 Corinthians 10:12). Bad company corrupts good character.