Saturday, January 7

Stay away from the tar baby

Scripture: Genesis 13-14, Psalm 4, Luke 7

Genesis 13:12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, but Lot settled among the cities of the Jordan plain and pitched his tents next to Sodom.

Genesis 14:12 They also took Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions when they left, for Lot was living in Sodom.


When Abram and Lot’s herdsmen quarreled because the land couldn’t support both of them, Abram generously gave Lot the first choice of land. According to custom, the elder should be given first pick, but Lot ignored that and chose first, selfishly taking the best for himself: the well-watered plain of the Jordan River. Lot “pitched his tents next to Sodom.” But the author warns us in verse 13 that the people of Sodom were “extremely wicked sinners against the Lord.” This is quite an indictment: they were not just sinners, but wicked sinners…extremely wicked sinners! In his greed and selfishness, Lot dismissed moral concerns and moved next to Sodom.

By the time of the war in chapter 14, Lot had moved in to Sodom. And by chapter 19, we can tell that Sodom had moved into Lot—he and has family had been “conformed to the world” (Romans 12:2) they had chosen to live in.

From next to Sodom to in Sodom to Sodom into them. This is a common story of moral compromise for the sake of selfishness. And it cost Lot everything: he lost his association with Abram and God’s blessing, his wife died, his daughters lost their fiancés and ended up being impregnated by their father, and he lost all his property and wealth—everything. 

Our choices matter.


The valley was full of tar pits (14:10). I thought of the old fable of Brer Rabbit and the tar baby. You can’t poke the tar baby without getting tar on you…and eventually getting stuck. 

Our choices matter. When you poke the tar baby, you get tarred. When you move into Sodom, it moves into you. Moral compromise leads to disaster, but we rarely see it coming because it happens one small compromise at a time. Next—in—into. 

Where am I making compromised choices? Where have I moved next to sin…and if I’m not careful, sin will be moving into me?

Prayer: Jesus, I love You. And I want to follow You without being tarred. Help me to make wise choices—and stay away from the tar baby!