Did you ever buy something that wasn’t as good as it appeared? Do you know someone who pretends to be honest, but isn’t? Did you ever take a job that turned out to be different than advertised?
Appearances and first impressions are very powerful influences on our decisions. Unfortunately, appearances and first impressions can be very wrong. There is a story in Genesis 13 that illustrates what happens when appearances are wrong. Abram and Lot had been traveling together, and they were becoming wealthier and wealthier. Eventually they were so wealthy that they could not stay together. When they decided to separate, Lot made a decision based on appearances that placed him in a bad situation. Let’s take a look.
Read the following verses and notice Abram’s wealth.
Gen. 13:1 ¶ So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, he and his wife and all that belonged to him, and Lot with him.
Gen. 13:2 ¶ Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold.
Gen. 13:3 He went on his journeys from the Negev as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai,
Gen. 13:4 to the place of the altar which he had made there formerly; and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.
Now notice Lot’s wealth.
Gen. 13:5 Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents.
Now notice the problem.
Gen. 13:6 And the land could not sustain them while dwelling together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together.
Gen. 13:7 And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. Now the Canaanite and the Perizzite were dwelling then in the land.
Gen. 13:8 ¶ So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers.
Gen. 13:9 “Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left.”
The solution was to separate. Abram allowed Lot to choose first. How did Lot decide where to go?
Gen. 13:10 Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere — this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah — like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar.
Gen. 13:11 So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other.
Gen. 13:12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom.
Lot looked at the Jordan Valley and it looked like a good place to live. So he moved there and eventually settled near Sodom. Was this a good decision?
Gen. 13:13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the LORD.
From a distance the Jordan Valley appeared to be a great place, and perhaps it was if you didn’t get too close to the cities. However, Lot settled near Sodom and the men of Sodom were wicked. Lot was drawn in by what he saw from a distance, but looks were deceiving and Lot ended up settling near wickedness.
What about you? Have you been deceived by appearances or a first impression and now you find yourself surrounded by sin? If so, consider the following verse:
1Cor. 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
This is a delicate balancing act. On the one hand, we don’t want to corrupt our own morals, so we need to avoid bad company. On the other hand, if we completely avoid bad people, then we have no chance to be a positive influence on them. Since bad company corrupts good morals, it is important that we look beyond appearances and first impressions and see the true substance of people and organizations. If we ever find ourselves in a situation where we are surrounded by sin because a first impression was wrong, then we either need to remove ourselves from the situation or be diligent that we are not allowing the bad company to corrupt our own morals.
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