Summary: Don't pursue the things of this world and lose your fellowship with God, your following, your fortune, and your family.
Some time ago, in the Reader’s Digest¸ Bob Newhart talked about his days as an accountant in downtown Chicago, when he went by his given name, “George.” He was a basic 9-to-5 bookkeeper, whose duties included managing the petty cash. Salesmen would come in from the road and turn in their receipts. George would give them cash and put the receipts in the petty-cash drawer. At the end of the day, he'd have to reconcile what was in the drawer with the receipts. It was always close, but it never balanced. At five o'clock, when everybody else was leaving the office, George would be tearing his hair out because petty cash was short by $1.48. Around 8 p.m., he'd find the discrepancy.
George followed this routine for a couple weeks. Finally, one day, he pulled the amount he was short from his pocket – $1.67 – put it in the drawer, and called it a day. Not long after, the petty cash drawer was over by $2.11. So he took $2.11 out of petty cash and pocketed that. Bob Newhart says, “I was hardly stealing. Inevitably, in the next couple of days, I would be under, and back the money would go.”
After several weeks of this, Mr. Hutchinson, head of accounting, discovered Bob Newhart’s shortcut to balancing petty cash. Using Bob’s given name, he said, “George, these are not sound accounting principles.”
George replied, “You know, Mr. Hutchinson, I just don't think I'm cut out for accounting. Why would you pay me $6 an hour to spend four hours finding $1.40?” (Bob Newhart, “Finding My Funny Bone,” Reader's Digest, September 2006, p. 93-94)
That’s a great question maybe not so much in the accounting office as it is in life. Is what I am pursuing worth the price? Or am I paying way too much for what I’m really getting out of life? Tell me: What are you pursuing, and is it worth the cost?
There was once a man who lived the difficult life of a nomad. He lived in a tent in the desert and pursued a God-given dream with his uncle that would produce huge benefits, but not in their lifetimes. Their descendants, generations later, would realize those benefits, but this man and his uncle would probably live out their days in the desert.
Then one day, this man decided it wasn’t worth it. Pursuing a dream for his descendants was not worth living in the desert, so he decided to pursue a different dream – something with more immediate results. He decided to move to the city where he could enjoy all of its pleasures, find a comfortable house, and become a respected citizen. He wanted to become a man of the world, but there was a cost. If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Genesis 19, Genesis 19, where we see what it cost this man to pursue more immediate, earthly pleasures.
Genesis 19:1-3 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. (ESV)
Lot had arrived. He had achieved his dream. He had a house in the city, and he was sitting in the city gate. That meant he was a leader in the city, because that’s where the leaders sat. They sat in the gateway of the city to conduct business and to settle disputes. Lot was no longer a nameless nomad living in the obscurity of the desert. He now had a comfortable home, and people in the city looked to him for guidance.
Lot had arrived, but what did it cost him? The Lord was not there. Only the two angels came to visit Lot, and they didn’t even want to go to his home. The Lord Himself was lingering with Abraham, but Lot had to practically force the angels to come home with him. Then he served them a quick meal. He “baked unleavened bread,” vs.3 says. In other words, he didn’t even take the time to let the bread dough rise.
In the previous chapter, Abraham prepared and kneaded 20 quarts of flour for bread, roasted a tender calf, brought milk and cheese out for these same guests, and lingered near while they ate. Lot just threw a little bit of flour and oil in a pan, fried it for a couple of minutes and called it good.