There was a story that came out today about a teenage mother who shot an intruder. I read the story and my heart broke for her, as I tried to empathize with her as a parent myself. At 18, she has been through a lot already with a husband who died on Christmas from lung cancer and now to having someone attempt to harm her and her child. That is a lot to try to process, not to mention that she needed to defend herself by killing this man. The things that take place are really unbelievable sometimes.
When stories like this happen, I wonder about the back story. I want to know who this guy was, where he came from, what his parents were like and ultimately why he walked the path he did. I would love to be able to see the whole story and try to determine empirically what all took place here. Was it a slow path to crime, or was it something that just sort of fell into his lap as an impulse? In short, why did he do what he did?
If you look at the Old Testament story of Abram and Lot, you see some clues as to how these things happen. In Genesis 13, Abram with his incredible wealth of livestock and other items and Lot, his nephew, realize that the land they are on is not big enough for both of them. There appears to some conflict between them about the land. So, Abram tells Lot that they will part company and he can pick which section he wants to live on and then Abram would take the other area. How does Lot decide?
“Lot looked up and say that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the LORD.” – Genesis 13:10
Lot looked at where the best land was for him and that is what he chose. He took no consideration for anyone else and certainly was not showing any concern with what God might want. Selfishness, or pride, is where sin really starts isn’t it? But, that is not a destination in itself. Well then what is the new destination for Lot?
“Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD.” Genesis 13: 12-13
Lot had not moved into Sodom, but he had moved close to it. Sodom was synonymous with evil, really everything that is against God. How close can someone live to evil and not be influenced by it? How significant was the choice to set up his life there so close to the wicked?
Well, we get to chapter 14 and we find that this land was also desired by different kings in the area. These kings go to war over the land and Lot gets captured. Now where is Lot living when they capture him?
“They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.” Genesis 14:12
Did you catch that? He has gone from living close to the wickedness, to living among it. That sure doesn’t take long for him to move into town. To make matters worse, now Abram has to go and rescue him from the trappings of his own decisions. Abram could have just told him to deal with it, after all he chose the path. Instead, Abram goes and rescues him, demonstrating grace to his nephew.
With that as a backdrop here, let’s go back to the story from above. How has the choices that this man made influenced his behavior? How much have the little steps amounted to him being so far away from living a life of honor? What part does society play in helping to steer people to wise decisions in life?
Yes, we have a sin nature, but that is not an excuse for anyone to sin. Just because we live in a sinful world does not make attacking someone with a knife alright, or somehow normal. Just because Sodom was evil did not mean that Lot had to move in and join them. Our lives matter. Our choices matter. All the steps we take each day lead somewhere and matter. I am not implying that you are on a path to some crime. But, perhaps you are on a path that leads you away from God’s ways and to a place of foolishness and heartache. Learn from others and remember to live with integrity. In youth ministry I often remind teens that their lives matter right now. In fact, this weekend we are on a retreat and certainly that topic will come up. So much of what people invest themselves in at a young age sticks with them later in life. That means that if they are out indulging the sin nature, that there will be regret and consequence later. But, if you live with integrity now there is only integrity to dwell in for the future.
“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” – Proverbs 11:7