Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Snowball Effect- Genesis 13 & 19

(Using The Father of Israel: Trusting God's Promises by John MacArthur)

If you read Genesis 13, you will find that Abram and his nephew Lot are having some problems. They are both wealthy men whose people are starting to quarrel over resources. Abram, being a man of God, offers a choice to his nephew Lot. Let's not fight, my nephew.  Lot, take a look at this land. You choose where you want to go. If you go left, I'll go right.  Abram unselfishly offered his nephew first choice. We see that Lot took complete advantage of the situation.

And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley. Thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley, and moved his tent as far as Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord. Genesis 13: 10-13 (ESV)
Lot's choice would have an impact on his family and eventually on the nations of the area for years to come. Lot choose the world over God. He moved towards Sodom. In Genesis 19:1, it says, "Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom." This would imply that Lot was member of the elders, a man of authority in Sodom. We find in the same chapter that Lot had a house in Sodom as well. Lot had slowly become a part of a society that was so corrupted that God would wipe it off the face of the Earth.  Still Lot is accounted as righteous in the new testament, and in Genesis 19 he protects the two angels who came to Sodom form the crowd of men which desired to sexually assault him. Lot had made choices that would have long range effects. Though God intercedes for him and his family to get them out of Sodom before the destruction, Lot looses his wealth, his wife, commits incest with his daughters, and fathers two people groups who would war with Abraham's descendants and cause them great suffering. Actions have a way of snowballing out of our control. 

On the other hand, Abram takes the less desirable land which leads him far from the sin of Sodom. He continues to dwell in service to God even though like all men he would stumble from time to time. Because he was not selfish and choose the things of this world but instead to choose to rely on God's faithfulness, Abram becomes the father of the line that leads to Jesus Christ. Through JC the whole world is affected by Abram's actions.

What we see is that our actions can have far reaching impact in the lives of others. We have been warned in the Bible not to love the things of the world though we are in the world.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions- is not from the Father but is from the world. And world is passing along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. I John 2:15-17 (ESV)
It is important that when we are faced with choices that we remember that the path to a life of sin begins with a small step, a single compromise. Its like the Casting Crowns song Slow Fade,
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray 
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It's a slow fade, it's a slow fade
I am reminded of what God said to Cain earlier in Genesis.
"...And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it." Genesis 4:7 (ESV)
Sin is waiting to pounce on our lives like an animal on the hunt. I have three cats and you can tell when they are about to pounce on each other. They pull their legs into position, and all their muscles tense up. Then like a gunshot they are off to pounce on what they think is their unsuspecting prey. That is not always the case though. If the other cat was on guard, then they either escape or defend themselves from the attacker. We have to be on guard against the sin that is crouching ready to pounce on us. We are encouraged to do so.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewel of your mind, that by testing you may discern the will of God, what is good and acceptable, and perfect. Romans 12:2 (ESV)

Keep your heart with all vigilance for from it flows the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23 (ESV)
In Ephesians 6:10-18, we are called to put on the armor of God in preparation for our battle with sin.

Keep in mind that sin has a Snowball Effect. We are not islands in the sea of life, but we are bound together like the blocks of a Jenga (I am sure this trademarked and I most certainly do not own it) game. Choose the wrong block and the whole tower comes crumbling down. We may only touch a few lives, but those lives touch other lives and on and on. Yet like Abram, when we make the right choices that also effects the people around us. Ultimately you have to decide which snow to make your snowball out of- the yellow snow or the white snow.

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