“Remember Lot’s wife. Whosoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it” (Luke 17:32-33).
Just recently I was preaching through Luke 17, and as I was preparing my message, I was struck by these words of Christ, “Remember Lot’s wife.” In this passage, Jesus is speaking about the coming of His Kingdom and the necessity of being separated from the basic system of this world. He begins with an illustration from the generation of Noah. He points out that Noah’s generation was completely unprepared for the disaster that befell them. Indeed, they were busy with the business of life, eating and drinking, getting married, and planning for weddings yet to come. Right up until the point Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. In the same way, He then points to the generation of Lot, and the citizens of Sodom. They too were taken up with the things of this life. They too were guilty of eating and drinking, buying and selling, and planting and building, but on the day Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire from heaven and destroyed them all.
In both illustrations, the generations of Noah and Lot were caught completely unaware. Neither had any understanding of the judgment and the catastrophe that was about to unleash upon them. Up until that point, their lives had been to a single end, that of just living. All their actions, all their days, each little moment of their existence, was spent on themselves. They lived lives thoughtless of God and a deep indifference towards Heaven. They had no time for God and were worshipers of the here and now, worshippers of their next meal, their next purchase, or their next project.
Now as I was considering these things, seeing how clearly and completely we could compare these examples to our own generation, I read Christ’s warning to His disciples, “Remember Lot’s wife.” We know her story from Genesis 19. How Lot, his wife, and their daughters were fleeing from Sodom’s destruction, and in the last moment, how Lot’s wife looked back towards the doomed city and was turned to a pillar of salt. Here is a woman who was almost saved, indeed, was in the process of flight and almost safe, and yet, there was something in her heart that pulled her back to the city of Sodom. She was pulled back to her life there, and to her home. She loved her life in Sodom and was full of sorrow to see it end, and in the end, her love for Sodom cost her life.
Now, this is what struck me, that Jesus gives His warning, not to the people of this world, but to those who are called His disciples. It’s a hard and bitter reminder to those who profess faith in Jesus not simply to assume their safety, but rather to be reminded that it is, “he that perseveres to the end, that shall be saved.” We are reminded here, that like the generations of Noah and Lot, who went about their everyday lives devoid of any thought or need of God, we too can run the risk of having our heart in the wrong place. We too can slip into the, “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” type of mentality. For if our desire is for this world, we will run the risk of having our love and devotion to Christ and His kingdom, eclipsed. The Bible warns us, that when Christ returns in the fullness of His Kingdom, there will be those who will be caught unawares and unprepared. Those like Lot’s wife, who has loved this present world, forsake the world that is to come. However, we are told to “remember Lot’s wife.”
I find this hugely challenging when I consider my own life and the focus of it. How often the temptations of this world, with all of its false and empty promises, are so near and enticing. Indeed, at times, how even the most ordinary and mundane things of life, such as our eating and drinking can be a source of hindrance to our faith, and enough to cause us to stumble along the way. Yet, how we should thank God for His mercy which keeps us, and for that abundance of grace which is so lavishly poured out upon us. Truly brethren, let us press on together, trusting He will not lead us into temptation and will deliver us from all evil. Let us remember Lot’s wife during this time, and keep our focus on the Prize of Christ ahead.