11 So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other. 12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom.
I was on a shuttle bus the other day going to a Colorado Rockies game (yes, they won) and I watched something spectacular. As some older people stepped onto the tram, few people moved… actually no one did. The older people continued down the aisle and eventually a middle-aged man toward the back got out of his seat and offered it to an older lady. A few others did the same, but, for the most part, people didn’t move.
As I stood, hanging onto the grab bar, I wondered if it mattered. What did this really mean? I began thinking of how much kids are allowed to interrupt adults talking these days and the way so many of them demand of their parents. I went on to point the finger at my own house and consider my own work. I thought about how the title President has been dropped from so many conversations as leaders are referred to as Bush or Obama or Trump.
Maybe we’re just a generation without manners?
Sadly, though, it seems the issue is greater than that. The real issue is humility.
If it is just manners, then manners are allowed to change according to whatever generational imposition is agreed upon. However, humility is transcendent. Humility is as old as time itself. Satan lacked humility and considered himself equal to God. Eve lacked humility and then Adam lacked humility. And so many others throughout the Gospel story lacked humility. Clearly, our text illuminates Lot’s lack of humility.
Lot chose for himself rather than defer to Abram. Consider this- Abram raised Lot as his own son after Lot’s father died. Abram included Lot and his family as they looked for the Promised Land. Abram chose humility when he offered Lot anywhere in the world but then Lot chose for himself. His selfish ambition didn’t allow himself to see Abram as worthy of honor. Lot had followed Abram and now it was his turn. Lot had a better idea anyhow, the valley looked better than Canaan. Sadly, though, leadership that flows from selfish ambition never ends well. There may be an initial surge but eventually Gospel forces take over and the cards fall.
Ultimately, humility will win (Ja 4:6).
Maybe this is why the first commandment with promise says, honor your father and your mother (Eph 6:2). We see this singular principle proven time and time again. Consider the season before David was proclaimed King of Israel, he first honored his father Jesse (1Sa 17:15) and then King Saul (1Sa 24:6). It was an immoral woman, rather than His own disciples, who honored Jesus by anointing Him (Lk 7:44). A beautiful New Testament picture of honor is seen when Paul knelt to pray with the Ephesian elders and they later stood up to embrace and kiss him.
Somewhere in this age of great revelation we seem to believe humility is a curse we are saved from. Sad. We feel it is somehow our responsibility to keep leaders humble while in the process, we have lost it for ourselves. Leaders have their own responsibility to lead with humility and those who follow have their own to live with humility as well.
Please don’t miss what I’m saying. Honor is not worship. We don’t worship people. We don’t do the things for leaders reserved for God (Rev 22:9). But, letting mom finish before interrupting her is an honor that should be taught. Supporting the Project Lead without endless criticism outside the conference room is a humble approach to work. Calling the President the President because he is the President isn’t a show of boundless policy support. It is all just living a demonstrable life of humility.
Humility is contagious… apparently arrogance can be taught also.
Maybe the 20 and 30 somethings on that tram thought they deserved a better seat since they were there first? Maybe they never considered the possibility that it was those elders who voted in 1990 to pay a tax surcharge to build the stadium that we were all riding towards? Maybe? Or maybe in an effort to eliminate corporate hierarchy we have actually bred a lack of humility? Maybe in an effort to be modern parents we have shown kids they are the ones to be respected above all? Maybe in an effort to make everything egalitarian we have mistakenly distilled humility from the process?
Moses humbly led Israel to the Promised Land. Joshua humbly led them to conquer to the Promised Land. David humbly led Israel and Judah together. The prophets humbly led nations to revival. Jesus humbly led us to redemption and the Apostles humbly led us to Jesus.
How are we leading our generation? Only humility will keep us in the places where hard work takes us.
Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:7-8, English Standard Version