Strive Against Spiritual Sluggishness
And while he [Lot] lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. Gen. 19:16
Here we find Lot in the final moments before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The warnings had been clear, and Lot had not doubted the truthfulness of those warnings. Yet in the final moments before the destruction, as Lot is told to escape with his life, he lingers as if unable to move. Calvin says this regarding Lot's lingering, “His tardiness is truly wonderful [astounding], since, though he was certainly persuaded that the angels did not threaten in vain, he could yet be moved, by no force of words until he is dragged by their hands out of the city.”
What caused him to linger? Matthew Poole estimates that, “He lingered, either though lothness to part with all his estate, or to lose his sons-in-law; or through astonishment and distraction of mind, which made him both listless and impotent.” Whatever it was, Lot was powerless to move on his own, and this seems to be the experience of us all from time to time when the Lord, through his Word, has told us to move. Whether it is sin with which we hate to part, or God’s leading in a new direction, many times we are sluggish.
God has told us to press on in His word, to be conformed to his image, and to do all He has commanded us. The thunderous warnings of the destruction of everything contrary have rung in our ears as He has told us to flee the wrath to come. Along with the thundering of destruction that push us from behind, we have the beauty of Christ, the True Image of God, before us, compelling us to come, yet so often we sit lifeless.
As Matthew Henry so aptly put it, “Thus many that are under some convictions about the misery of their spiritual state, and the necessity of a change, yet defer that needful work, and foolishly linger.” But praise God Lot’s story does not end there, and neither does ours, for God was merciful to him as the angels grabbed him by the hand and brought him out of the city to safety.
Are there areas in your life which hinder your growth in the things of the Lord? Do you know the Lord has called you to remedy a certain aspect of your life, yet you sit idle, making no progress in spiritual things? If so, be prepared, for if you are a true child of God who is unmoved even though you have heard His word, He will use other means to get you to move. Whatever inordinate loves keep you motionless may be forcefully removed, forcing you to make steps onward in your journey to the Celestial City. Calvin makes the point clear when he says,
“For so it is often necessary for us to be forcibly drawn away from scenes which we do not willingly leave. If riches, or honors, or any other things of the that kind, prove an obstacle to anyone, to render him less free and disengaged from the service of God, when it happens that he is abridged [cut off] of his fortune, or reduced to a lower rank, let him know that the Lord has laid hold of his hand; because words and exhortations had not sufficiently profited him.”
Let us never forget that even the more forceful means the Lord uses to speed us along to be conformed to the image of Christ is done in mercy, for it would have been no injustice had He left us in our impotent state to partake in the destruction that we refused to flee. Has the Lord been calling you to surrender some sin? Has he been prompting you by His Holy Spirit, to live a life more in service to Him than the worldly pleasure you now serve? Or is he simply calling you to spend more time in prayerful study of His Word, which is so often neglected. Whatever it may be, we all have enough sluggishness in us that we should, with all earnestness, strive against it. And may the words of this devotion be the means God uses to move you on, for if mere words are not enough, in His mercy, He will lay his hands upon His child.