Summary: Many people struggle with the same temptation for many years. Often, people will wonder, “How is it possible for a Christian to struggle with a temptation for so long? How did things get so bad?” I’ll tell you how: so slowly that you wouldn’t even notice what was taking place.
The Slow Slide
Text: Genesis 13:2-13
Ever seen a Chinese handcuff? Maybe you know it better by the name “Chinese Finger Trap” or “that joke your friend played on you that one time after asking, ‘Wanna see something cool?’” The genius of this gag toy is its simplicity; it’s just a small cylinder of woven bamboo strips. But when you place your fingers in the open ends of the cylinder and pull, the bamboo braid contracts, trapping your fingers inside. The more you pull, the more the trap tightens.
When I was growing up, it was the practical joke that people pull on each other. I remember one of my friends doing this to me. The harder that I struggled, the more he would laugh. When I became mad at him, he simply said, “Don’t get mad at me- I didn’t make you stick your fingers in it!”
Isn’t that just how temptation works sometimes. We get ourselves in trouble when we willingly entertain it, and the trap closes around us the more we pull away from following God and the longer we all temptation to stay in our lives unchecked. From there it just gets worse as we fall to sin and experience consequences that are sometimes far longer-reaching than we ever could have foreseen.
Many people struggle with the same temptation for many years. Often, people will wonder, “How is it possible for a Christian to struggle with a temptation for so long? How did things get so bad?” I’ll tell you how: so slowly that you wouldn’t even notice what was taking place.
When it comes to temptation, a big problem rarely begins as a big problem. It begins as the song on the radio we should turn off, but ignore because we’re too tired. It begins as the unedifying conversation at work that we don’t partake in but remain part of long after we should’ve stepped away. It begins as that argument with a spouse that we leave unresolved just long enough to wonder if the grass isn’t greener elsewhere. It begins with allowing ourselves to drive past a place we shouldn’t frequent rather than takin an alternate route. On and on I could go, but you get the point. These are small decisions that we think are irrelevant at the time, but in hindsight we realise by making them we placed ourselves in the trap that led to sin.
None of this happens overnight. You won’t turn the corner tomorrow and discover you suddenly became an emotional overeater or have destructive anger issues. It is a slow slide into bondage.
Lot, Abraham’s trouble-magnet of a nephew, can tell us something about the slow slide. It takes eight chapters of the book of Genesis (12-19) to tell his story. Let’s take a look at his progression into temptation and sin.
1. The Backstory
Lot was the son of a man named Haran, who we better know as the brother of Abraham. When Haran died, Abraham took lot in to raise as his own. We know from the Bible that Abraham was a man of great faith who loved God and sought to honour Him with his life. It was to Abraha, that God said,
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:”
And God did bless him abundantly. The Bible says this future father of the Jewish nation “was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold” (Genesis 13:2). Surely, if there were a godly example to follow, it was Abraham’s. Lot clearly benefited from his relationship with Abraham: Genesis 13:5 tells us “And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.” But a problem was brewing. Lot and Abraham had so many flocks and herds that it became hard to share the land between them, so they determined to go their separate ways.
And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.
2. The Slide Begins
What happened next in Lot’s story was a decision that perhaps be looked back on with regret. At the time, however, it seemed harmless enough. Standing there with his uncle and being given his choice of the land that stretched before them on all sides, Lot did what many of us would have done in his place: he chose the land that would give him the greatest advantage.