In our third and last look at dumb husbands of the Bible, we’re digging into the story of Abraham’s nephew, Lot. He seems like an unlikely candidate since his story doesn’t offer much about his relationship with his wife. The way I look at it, that’s a clue he’s got a problem.
Plenty of other “dumb” husbands let their wives down in scripture. Abraham threw Sarah under the bus to protect himself from danger. (Genesis 12) Samson had some major issues with anger and lust. (Judges 14-16) Elkanah disappeared when Hannah needed him. (1 Samuel 1) Adam let Eve take the blame for his own behavior. (Genesis 3) But despite their mistakes, each of these men displayed a certain level of love and devotion. We see a measure of generosity, affirmation, and loyalty woven through their stories.
Yet when I look at the story of Lot, the only person he’s concerned about is Lot! I believe a self-centered husband is the most destructive one of all. Here are three ways Lot’s selfishness brought ruin to his wife:
Lot moved toward the money.
We are introduced to Lot as Abraham’s nephew and travel companion. They had so much “stuff” and cattle between the two of them that the land couldn’t support it all. (Genesis 13:5-7) In those tight quarters, fighting broke out between Abraham and Lot’s herders. To avoid a family feud, Abraham posed a question to Lot: “Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.” (v. 9)
Here is where we start to see the heart of Lot’s character. Lot had a lot (ha), but he still craved more. He chose the most beautiful, fertile land for himself as a fast track to building his wealth even more. As husbands, we need to remember when we chase money we’re dragging our wives along with us. And if we become more attached to our goals than to our wives, eventually we’ll leave them behind.
I’ve found myself on both sides of this over the years. I worked hard to achieve a bit more money in the bank and a better title at my company (and an upgraded frequent flyer mile status…the list goes on.). It was a tough wake-up call to realize my wife was raising our four kids on her own. After some soul-searching I took a position allowing me to be home and fully involved as a husband and father. I can honestly say I feel more regret for the days I missed with my family than the gains I might have achieved on my prior career path.
Today I have a wife who shows me grace when I need it, because she’s seen me choose her above my own pursuits. I have grown kids who still like hanging out with me. (Cue the “Cats in the Cradle” song here.) I’m having a blast sharing my days with our three kids still at home. As men, let’s move toward the valuable things in life, keeping our wives’ needs and desires in mind through it all.
Lot moved toward God’s enemies.
Out of all the places Lot could have pitched his tent, he chose to settle in near the wicked city of Sodom. As time went by, he ditched the tent and moved right into town. (Genesis 13:12-13, 19) Our wives and families will suffer every time we move toward earthly desires and away from God. I doubt Lot’s original intent was to call the wicked people of Sodom his friends and neighbors. But his choice of land and location had the snowball effect of landing him right in the middle of God’s enemies.
We see this in families today. A taste of success makes a career more appealing than relationships. A few moments with porn lead to a full-blown addiction. The pressure to hold up appearances brings foolish spending and financial hardship. Busy schedules have the family running in opposite directions until they lose their way back to each other again. When a husband immerses himself in the darkness of the world, his walk with God and his devotion to his wife fall apart.
The Bible fills us in on the outcome for Abraham and Lot. Abraham accepted his inferior portion of land, but God made huge promises and poured out great blessing on his life. Lot took the best the land had to offer and ended up losing it all. Husbands, “…what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37) Lot didn’t lose his soul—his faith remained intact—but everything he’d worked for burned to the ground. If we live for ourselves we’ll find ourselves empty-handed in the end.
Lot moved away from his calling.
The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah have become the poster cities for evil and violent behavior. God looked for righteous people in those places but they were too far gone. In his mercy, he recognized Lot’s belief in him and sent angels to rescue him before the cites were destroyed.
At the last minute, the angels “urged Lot, saying, ‘Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.’” Here was Lot’s time to prove what he was made of. As a husband, he was called to love, serve, and protect his wife from danger. The Bible says in this critical moment that instead of stepping up, he “hesitated.” For real. The angels had to grab them by the hands and pull them all to safety.
A husband is called to love his wife like Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. (Ephesians 5:25) Lot’s self-love was focused on his fear of what was coming instead of who he was taking with him.
As husbands we struggle with fear as well. We’re afraid we’ll fail to measure up to our goals and ideals. We wonder if God will really come through with what we need. Our stress becomes so consuming, we’ve nothing left to care for the hearts of our wives. The only way to get out from under our fear is to put ourselves in God’s hands. When we fully trust him with our lives, we’re free to love our wives without holding back.
A word to the wives: It’s easy to sit back in harsh judgement of Lot and his choices. God is the one who “looks at the heart” while we’re puzzling over what we see with our eyes. (1 Samuel 16:7) He affirmed Lot’s faith, calling him a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wicked behavior of the people in his city. (2 Peter 2:7-8) I look at his life and have to ask myself hard questions: Am I blending in with the world? Does the love of money have a hold on me? Am I encouraging my husband in his faith or tempting him to compromise? Is fear keeping me stuck in my mess instead of taking God’s direction?
Just as Rob is called to cherish and protect me with the love of Jesus, I’m called to support him wherever God asks him to go. Let’s pray for faith in action in our marriages today.