1999-09-09 - The Root Cause
Jude 1:7 Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example, in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (NAS)
Ask almost anyone and they know the reference of Sodom and Gomorrah as two ancient cities destroyed for their immoral practices. Ask most Christians about Sodom and they will remember how God used two angels to remove Lot and his family from the city just before fire and brimstone devastated the city. The destruction was on such a scale to where the cities literally was submerged into the southern end of the Dead Sea. There were other cities of the plain of Jordan destroyed that day, but these were the two key cities. Their gross immorality so displeased God that he removed the city from the face of the earth in a single stroke.
There are many thoughts associated with the destruction of Sodom. There are sinful attitudes and demands by the crowd in the passages that give us a picture of the population. But what led the cities of the Jordan plain to pursue lives that were so contrary to the way that God had hoped for mankind to live? This was a rich, fertile area and the towns and villages were prosperous. Their wealth gave them spare time that many others around them did not have. There is a different attitude between someone who has to work for their meals for the next day or today and someone who has food stored up. A pride in their abilities an accomplishments can often be seen. The problem is that these abilities, and goals met, are gifts from God just as our health and life are gifts.
Luke 12:18-20 "And he said, 'This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 'And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry."' 20 "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?' (NAS)
There is nothing wrong with using your abilities well or honing your skills. There is nothing wrong with hard work and meeting goals. A certain pride in your workmanship, doing a job well as if it were being done for the Lord, is acceptable. But when we begin to take full credit for our talents and the work that we do, we fool ourselves badly. Unless God builds the house, those who attempt to build it may do everything in their power to complete it in vain. When we fail to acknowledge God's hand working in our lives, we tread on very thin ice. We stand on the slippery slope of pride, sliding headlong toward arrogance and presumption. The man who would have torn down his barns assumed that no rats would get to his grain, nor mildew destroy his stores. They were his, free and clear, to live on and he was proud of it when he should have been grateful.
Ezek 16:49-50 "Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food, and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. 50 "Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it. (NAS)
Sodom infected her daughters, the smaller towns and villages, around her and they were destroyed in their pride with her. When we refuse to remember God in our daily lives and place ourselves in the position of the final authority, then we walk too close to the world just as Lot did. Bad company will corrupt good morals, but very rarely the other way around. Lot sat in the gate with the leaders of the city, probably in an attempt to influence the judgments of the city for God, or at least for good. Even though he managed to fend off the worst Sodom had to offer, the influence of the city became evident in his wife and his daughters.
I Jn 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. (NAS)
Before we are too hard on Lot or Sodom and Gomorrah, we had better look at ourselves and our nation. Americans, Europeans, Australians and others live with an amount of free time available to them that was only dreamed about by royalty only a hundred years ago. We shop for fresh fruit and vegetables from vast farms and faraway lands. We control the temperature in our homes and buildings for the sake of our comfort. The list could go on for pages. These things in themselves are not bad. But to fail to recognize that they are gifts from a loving Father, and to even take the praise for His blessings, is not right.
The root cause of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was pride, a failure to recognize the lavish gifts they had been given and their Source. Their idle time gave them opportunity to seek their own comforts. Soon they began to insist upon the pleasures, and more, that they had collected to themselves. If we can turn from this false pride and learn thankfulness to the Lord who has blessed us beyond measure, we may be given grace. With that time, we can show the world the grace and salvation of Jesus - surely the greatest gift.
Lord Jesus - help us to be thankful in the little things and recognize that it's You who have given us so very much. A heart grateful for even the little things is a powerful evidence of a changed life. It makes Your hand in our lives evident to those around us. Amen.
Grace & Peace,