There should be a sense of urgency in living the Christian life. For we are not here for ever. We are on a journey to our heavenly home (see Hebrews 11:13-16). Yet many Christians live as if all eternity they are going to spent on earth. They are so much attached to their houses and possessions that any thought of leaving them behind makes them sad. This is exactly what happened to Lot’s wife.
She, along with her husband and daughters, had received a clear command not to look back. Yet she looked back and became a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:17, 26). So Jesus warned: “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32)!
God had showed mercy to her family by sending two angels to deliver them from the city to be destroyed. So also God delivers us from the bondage of sin and slavery to it. Yet if our hearts are intent on looking back we are bound to be destroyed. Judgment will surely come; “For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God: and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17). Lot’s wife is a perfect example of this.
The warning through her example is that our hearts should not long for those things of the past from which we’ve broken away from. Lot’s wife’s heart was in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah even when she was leaving it. Those cities were in the plain of the Jordan and “was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt” (Genesis 13:10). Lot had chosen this place because of its attractiveness; but the people there “were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD” (Genesis 13:13).
The warning given here is that if we choose worldliness and material attractions, it leaves no room in our hearts for God. This is because the splendour of worldly kingdoms hold such a tempting power that the devil even tempted the Son of God with it (Luke 4:6). So if we choose to be friends with this world, we become enemies of God (James 4:4) and in the process we will at some time look back even when God helps us to move forward in our Christian living.
Looking back is exactly what the Israelites did when they came out of Egypt. They started wailing saying, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost-also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna” (Numbers 11:4-6)! Even though they had left Egypt, Egypt was still in their hearts. The great deliverance that God had given them mattered little to them. Even God’s visible presence in the form of the pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night did not prevent them from grumbling against God! Why? The reason is that their hearts were still in Egypt and the variety foods they ate there.
A similar attitude like this will make bring God’s judgment on us too. We will become immobile like Lot’s wife who became a pillar of salt. Her journey was suddenly halted. That is why we have to remember Lot’s wife and remind ourselves time and again that we are a people on a journey.
Yes, we are called to remember that our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians). We are called to live our lives “as strangers here in reverent fear” and also “to abstain from sinful desires, which war against the soul” since we are “aliens and strangers in the world” (1 Peter 1:17; 2:11). Therefore let us keep moving on (see Philippians 3:12-14) and not look back. Forget those things that are behind!
If we truly have the kingdom of God in our hearts; then we’ll not be comfortable in worldly company. It does not mean that we will not associate with people who are not believers. Instead it means that our enjoyment will be God’s Word rather than worldly entertainments. Others, especially those friends of yours, will note that your attitudes are different from theirs. Sometimes they’ll hate you for it; and not include you in their activities. That’s good. For that means you’ve made them understand that your heart is not in worldly possessions that perish but that you’re deeply conscious of belonging to another One who shed his precious blood and died for you!