To Someone Who May Be Hesitating
Lot and his family were living in the wicked city of Sodom. One day, angel messengers arrived with a warning: God was going to destroy the city, and Lot and his loved ones must flee. Lot rushed to tell his sons-in-law, but they thought he was joking and refused to leave. As the family fled, Lot’s wife looked back (does this not imply a desire to turn back?), and she also was lost. Only Lot and his two daughters escaped to safety (see Genesis 19:12ff).
Picture Lot’s feelings as he and his daughters fled Sodom. People he knew, people he cared about, had perished in God’s judgment. All of his neighbors, lost. Everyone he had done business with, lost. All of his friends (assuming he made some in such a vile place), lost. His sons-in-law, lost. His beloved wife, lost. Imagine Lot’s pain!
The Bible says that Lot was at first hesitant to leave Sodom (Genesis 19:16). Why? Might it have been the thought that, if he fled, he would be condemning those he left behind?
Sometimes people show that very kind of hesitation when they are taught the gospel of Christ. They see the Bible’s teaching about their need for salvation and what they must do to respond. They understand it. But there is a painful recognition that they have friends and relatives — even loved ones who have already died — who haven’t followed God’s plan. And they hesitate, reasoning that if they act on His teaching, they will be condemning their loved ones who have not done the same.
Is that the position you are in? Then consider a few things.
1. Your choice does not determine someone else’s destiny. If you do what God says you must do to be saved, are you condemning those who have not done so? It’s true that Noah is said to have “condemned the world” when he obeyed God in building the ark (Hebrews 11:7). That is, the testimony of his faith and obedience made a statement about the disobedience of those around him. But was Noah the one who brought judgment on their sin and determined their fate? No, God did that, and He did it because they chose to reject Him. Your accepting the gospel may lead to an uncomfortable awareness that someone you love has not done so, but that in no way makes you responsible for that person’s being lost. God is their judge — and He is yours.
2. Someone else’s choice does not change your need for salvation. Paul wrote that “we will all stand before the judgment seat of God” and that “each one of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10, 12). If another person has not obeyed the gospel, that has no bearing on your own situation. You and you alone are responsible for your soul and your choices.
3. Two wrongs don’t make a right. If someone you know and love has not obeyed God, what good will you accomplish by deciding not to obey Him yourself, when you know you should? God’s plan of salvation applies to everyone; you are not going to void its application to some other person by rejecting it yourself. All you will accomplish is joining that person in disobedience. Satan will have retained mastery over two souls instead of just one.
4. God will judge righteously. He knows every person’s heart, his opportunities, his understanding, and his choices. And, regardless of your closeness with a particular person, God knows those things better than you do. He will be their judge, and He will do so from perfect knowledge, perfect justice, and perfect love.
If some departed friend or relative didn’t obey the gospel, don’t let what you cannot do for them outweigh what you must do for yourself. And if someone you know and love hasn’t yet obeyed the gospel? Instead of using that as an excuse for your own disobedience, why not submit yourself to God, become a Christian, and then share the message with that person?
When Lot hesitated to leave Sodom, the messengers from God took him and his loved ones by the hand to lead them out of the city toward safety (Genesis 19:16). If you need to accept the gospel, but you’ve been hesitating, then think of this essay as an attempt to do the same for you.