92. Friend of the world, Friend of God

In James 4:4 NASB we read, “do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?” This statement reminds me of Lot, Abraham’s brother.

In James 2:23 we read of Abraham: “and he was called the Friend of God.”

Let’s see what we can learn from one who acted like a friend of the world, and one who was truly a friend of God.

Choices and Riches

We know from 2 Peter 2:7 that Lot was a righteous man. He did not love evil, but he lived in a wicked city with worldly aspirations. Lot lost immeasurably. In Genesis 13:7-13, we find that Lot chose the physical over the spiritual. He chose pleasures over piety. He chose to live close to the world instead of close to God, and was sucked in to the evil world system. He had his eyes on the luscious valley, but his focus was drawn away by the pull of materialism to an evil city.

Abraham was a righteous man as well (Gen. 15:6), but his sights were set higher than this world. He made choices for eternity instead of for time. He was a humble man, giving Lot the choice of where to settle. He chose others over self, and chose to live close to God rather than to enjoy this world’s fleeting pleasures.

Cottages and Tents

Lot chose to dwell in a land doomed for destruction (Gen 13:12). He likely had a nice home with the delicacies of the city. Abraham chose to live in the land of promise (Gen 13:14-18). His cottage was simply a tent (Heb. 11:9), and he looked for a city whose architect and builder is God (Heb. 11:10). Lot was involved in the politics of the world, and appears to have had a high position socially. He had roots deep into this old world. Abraham, in contrast, was ready to pick up his tent and move where the LORD led him at a moment’s notice. Though God blessed him materially, he didn’t let his material possessions keep him from being where God wanted him to be. Abraham had failures in his life and wasn’t always in the place God desired, but God always brought him back to the right place again.

Conquests and Captives

Lot was taken captive along with the world he lived with (Gen 14:12). It was Abraham, the Friend of God, that had power over the enemy and who could rescue his captured brother (Gen 14:14-16). Lot lost basically everything he owned a second time when the city was destroyed– he never learned his lesson. In contrast, Abraham refused the world’s reward (Gen 14:21-23) and instead received God’s reward (Gen 15:1).  God was his shield and his “exceeding great reward.” God promised Abraham His friend an eternal inheritance.

Care and Welcome

Both Lot and Abraham showed hospitality and care to the angels that visited them. The angels’ message to Abraham was a message of life: Sarah would have a son. Their message to Lot was a message of death: the city was doomed for destruction. Lot’s ability to welcome and care for the angels was severely affected by the environment in which he lived.

Children and Sacrifice

Lot was willing to sacrifice his daughters to the world (Gen. 19:8). Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son to God (Gen. 22).

Character and Testimony

Lot softly chided the wicked men of the city, calling them brothers (Gen. 19:14). Abraham spoke of Sodom as “the wicked” (18:23). The character of Lot’s testimony was such that his relatives would not believe him when he told them that they were in grave danger. Abraham failed in his testimony as well, lying about his wife and putting others in danger (Gen. 20:5), but the LORD overruled and made things right again. Abraham’s character as a whole was honorable (Gen. 18:19).

Catastrophe and Intercession

Lot was spared through Abraham’s intercession (Gen. 19:29). Abraham was a man of fervent prayer, bold faith, and deep concern for his brother (Gen 18:17, 25). God revealed special things to Abraham His friend that He did not reveal to others (Gen. 18:17).

Lot hesitated when told to flee from the doomed city (Gen. 19:16). He didn’t want to leave all his earthly possessions behind. Abraham, however, wouldn’t take the smallest thing from the King of Sodom (Gen. 14:22-23). After Lot finally left the city, he didn’t want to fully obey the Lord’s command, and requested to go to a small city instead of fleeing to the mountain (19:19-20). He wanted a shortcut, an easier way, and a place closer to the familiar world he came out of. In the end, he became afraid that God wouldn’t do what He said and preserve him there, and left the city. In contrast, Abraham, when given the last great test, fully obeyed the Lord and climbed the mountain of sacrifice to the very top (Gen. 22:18). There he learned of God’s provision and salvation.

Considering the spouses

Lot’s wife, in her death, is a lesson to us not to love the world (Luke 17:32). Abraham’s wife, in giving birth, is a lesson to us to remember God’s blessing and care for His people (Isaiah 51:2).

Culmination

Lot had some good characteristics, but these things did not profit him because of his association with the world. The last we are told of Lot, we see him in a cave with nothing left but his two daughters and their sinful ways (Gen. 19:30). The descendants of what transpired there eventually were a snare to the people of God. Yet we see that God blessed Lot’s descendants with an inheritance in Deut. 2:19.

Some of the last words we read about Abraham’s life are “Now Abraham was old, advanced in age; and the LORD had blessed Abraham in every way” (Gen. 24:1). He had the joy of seeing his son married and going on for God, and he had a rich inheritance to pass on to him (Gen. 25:5). He had bright promises to look forward to. His seed would one day be as the sand of the seashore and the stars of the heavens for multitude. He rejoiced to see a day when Christ would come (John 8:56). He went down in the Scriptures as the Friend of God, the Father of the Faithful (Rom. 4:11).

Lessons to be learned

So what can we learn from these two examples God has given us in the Scriptures? Here are a few suggestions:

Choices and Riches

I have a choice to make: will I choose to live close to the world, or close to God? Will I esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures in Egypt (Heb. 11:26), and the reward of the eternal over the fleeting glitter of this world?

Cottages and Tents

Which do I value more, the mansions of this world or the mansions of heaven? Which world am I living for, this one or the next? Which do I value more, the inheritance that this world can give, or the inheritance that God can give?

Conquests and Captives

Am I one who is strong in the Lord and the power of His might (Eph. 6), or am I a friend of that same world that is an enemy of Christ and the child of God? Am I ready to “save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh” (Jude 23)?

Care and Welcome

Is my home a place where other Christians are welcome? Is it a place that is conducive to spiritual growth and development, or is it a place contaminated by the world and its ways? “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Heb. 13:2 NASB).

Children and Sacrifice

What am I sacrificing to the world? What am I sacrificing for God? “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:35-36 NASB).

Character and Testimony

My character will greatly influence those I love and come into contact with. Does my testimony to the saving grace of God have an influence on those I love who are not yet saved? We all will fall in one way or another, but the Lord is able to lift us up and help us go on for Him, if that is our desire.

“If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2Tim. 2:21).

Catastrophe and Intercession

Am I a man or woman of prayer, interceding for others?

If the Lord came today, would I be looking back longingly at my life’s possessions, or would I be looking forward to eternity with Him in that city of gold? Will I be one of whom it is said, [only] “he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1Cor. 3:15 NASB)?

Am I willing to obey the Lord completely, following in the footsteps of my Savior who went all the way up Calvary’s mountain for me?

Considering the spouses

Lot’s wife gives us the lesson of a wasted life. Abraham’s wife gives us a lesson of a life perhaps thought to be wasted (not being able to bare children), but found to be very fruitful through faith. Is my life fruitful, or faithless?

Culmination

When it comes time to leave to be with Christ, the award that awaits me will largely be dependent on whether I was a “friend of the world” or a “friend of God.”

 

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