If you ask someone how much money he needs, quite often the answer will be, “More!” Very few will admit that they have enough. Very few are satisfied with the amount of their possessions or their income. In fact, most of us spend much of our time pursuing a bigger income, a nicer and more spacious house, a bigger car, the newest computer or smart phone.
One of the wonderful things about God is that He is just. He will never render a decision which violates justice or which is based on personal feelings or expediency. Even in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, which were notorious for their wickedness, God sent angels to verify the facts before He destroyed them. (You can read the story in Genesis 18:16-19:29.)
Have you ever felt the stirrings of envy when you see what someone else has? We work hard yet, no matter how hard we work, it seems like we never have quite enough money to do all the things we would like. In contrast, someone else spends lavishly yet never seems to run out of money. He can indulge whatever whim takes him.
Perhaps we live in a house that is barely adequate to meet our needs – it is crowded and cramped; it is in poor repair. Even so, we find it difficult to pay the rent. Our neighbor is building a mansion with far more rooms than he will ever need – and this is only one of his residences.
Some events or situations are so vivid or traumatic that the memory of them survives in our culture as a figure of speech. The destruction of Sodom is one such event. Though it occurred many thousands of years ago, the mention of Sodom still brings to mind the fire from heaven which consumed it. When we hear of a village or city burned by fire, we say it was destroyed like Sodom.
The name of Sodom has also become a metaphor for wickedness. When we see or hear about a place which is particularly vile or notorious, we call it another Sodom.
What was the wickedness for which God destroyed Sodom? The thing most people associate with Sodom is sexual perversion. There is no doubt that they did not honor and keep keep pure the covenant of marriage. They certainly did not restrain themselves by the standards which God gave mankind regarding sexual activity.
It is easy to become discouraged when we see the injustice that takes place in our world. It is easy to become angry when people are punished for doing what is right while others are rewarded or commended for doing what is wrong. However, this raises a question: What is justice? How do we know what is right and what is wrong?
Many people go through life discontented and dissatisfied. They work hard. They acquire goods and property. Some even receive awards and recognition for their accomplishments. Yet, possessions and acclaim are not enough. Something is still lacking. No matter how much they have, they feel they need still more. King Solomon writes, “What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 2:22-23 NIV)
We often hear of people whose homes, possessions and livelihoods have been wiped out in some disaster. Perhaps an earthquake has flattened the area where they live. Perhaps a flood or tsunami has washed their homes away. Perhaps they have had to flee because of civil unrest, war or persecution. Our hearts go out to such people. We want to help them in their misfortune so they can re-establish their lives and provide for their children.
External circumstances are not the only thing which affect people’s lives. Sometimes illness or injury prevents people from providing for their families. Just as with those who suffer because of natural disaster or social calamity, our hearts go out to those who are in need through no fault of their own. We have compassion for them. We do not like to see the innocent suffer.
We often reject the things people try to tell us. Why is this? Often it is because the information does not agree with the things we already believe or think we know. In order to accept the message we would have to revise our opinions, change the way we feel about something or re-examine our beliefs. None of us likes to find out that we are wrong. It is often much easier to reject the message than to admit we are mistaken.
Oftentimes we think we have our lives all figured out. We know what we want to do. We have decided our direction. We make all kinds of elaborate plans to achieve our goals.
At first, things may seem to go well. Our plan unfolds just as we determined it should. But then, things start to go wrong. We discover that there are factors involved which we did not take into account. Things we did not even know about suddenly arise. Our carefully laid plans no longer fit reality.
If you were to ask most people to whom they belong, they would probably answer, “I don’t belong to anyone. I m not a slave!” It is very true that we like to think of ourselves as free and independent. We control our own lives. No one can tell us what to do! But are we really independent? Do we really have no master, who controls or oversees our lives?