Daily Bible Reading Reflections

Paradise Was a Package Deal

Today’s Bible reading is Genesis 13 and Romans 6.

When “the whole land” lies before you, what do you choose?

Genesis 13 describes a time when the flocks, herds, tents, and possessions of Abram and his nephew Lot “were so great that they could not dwell together.” The same land was simply unable to support both of them and strife was beginning to break out between their herdsmen.

Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” (13:8-9)

The elder could have flexed his patriarchal muscles and told the younger how it was going to be, but he gave the gift of the choice to his nephew.

So, when “the whole land” lies before you, what do you choose?

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, and Lot journeyed east. 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. (13:10-13)

What an opportunity for Lot! How lush must this valley have been to merit a “like the garden of the LORD” description? Well-watered. Green. Fertile. Paradise. But at what cost? If you’re familiar with the rest of Lot’s story, you know just how great that cost turned out to be.

Maybe this first day of a new workweek is a good moment to remember: life is connected. Choices have consequences. Weighty ambitions create far-reaching ripple effects.

“If I follow the lead of these friends, is their influence going to push me towards wisdom or pull me towards foolishness?”

“If I choose that college, will I have the godly support system I need?”

“If I date that person, does it matter whether or not they love God?”

“If I marry that person, are they going to help me get to heaven?”

“If we move to … what sort of influences will meet our children head-on?”

“If I take that job, what temptations will fly in tandem with the opportunities?”

“If I accept this added responsibility, will I still be able to maintain and nurture what matters most?”

“If we retire here, will we remain as active and effective for the kingdom as we possibly can be?”

Without a doubt, wherever disciples of Jesus live, go to school, work, and interact, there will be challenges. We live “in” a world we are not “of”–a world drowning in the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life. Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await our Savior, but our choices in the meantime have very real consequences.

Lot “lifted up his eyes and saw” what looked like paradise, but paradise was a package-deal. As he settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom, the influential pull was strong “against the LORD.”

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Eph 5:15-17)

Today is a good day to pray for wisdom, endurance, and the boldness necessary to unashamedly shine as lights in a dark world where the pull “against the LORD” continues to be very strong.