The person you become is determined by the company you keep.
At the time when Amraphel was king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goyim, these kings went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboyim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea Valley). For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him went out and defeated the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert. Then they turned back and went to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and they conquered the whole territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazezon Tamar.
Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboyim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goyim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five. Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills. The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.
Trouble Seems To Follow Lot
Chapter 14 starts out with a battle. In fact, this is the first mention of war in the Bible. Five kingdoms, or city-kingdoms if you will, were subject to Kedorlaomer the king of Elam. This had been the situation for twelve years until the five kingdoms decided to rebel. Kedorlaomer the king of Elam and three of his allies, the city-kingdoms of Shinar, Ellasar, and Goyim entered into battle against the five rebelling kingdoms, two of which were Sodom and Gomorrah, and defeated them. In the process they also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom. (v.12)
Poor Lot. Trouble seems to follow him wherever he goes. Over the years I’ve heard that phrase used concerning celebrities who repeatedly find themselves in trouble, with the law, or in their marriage, or with alcohol and drugs. “Trouble seems to follow him (or her) wherever he goes.” Or does it? When you examine these celebrity’s lives more closely you find that the company they keep includes people who repeatedly get into trouble.
It was the same with Lot. Genesis 13:13 tells us that Lot chose to live with people who were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD. Their battles became his battles. Their losses became his losses. Their problems became his problem.
Praying For God’s Crew
I was 22 years old. Kathy was 19, and eight and one half months pregnant. My job at the cabinet shop was cut back from 40 hours a week to 8 hours a week. We were living in a rented 8′ x 28′ trailer on a friend’s property deep in the woods of Oregon. The trailer was heated with a wood stove and was so small that you either boiled in the living room where the wood stove was or you froze in the only bedroom at the other end of the trailer. The shower was so small that if Kathy, pregnant with our first son, dropped the bar of soap, she had to ask me to come pick it up because there wasn’t enough room in the shower to stoop down to grab it.
Growing up I made poor choices when it came to friends. In middle school I hung out with an older boy who liked to burglarize houses which resulted in me getting in trouble with local law enforcement. In high school and college I liked to hang with the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll crowd. So it was as much of a surprise to me as it was to anyone else when, desperate for a job to support my wife and my first born son only a few weeks from arriving, I started going for walks in the woods outside our tiny trailer and praying for a workplace where I’d find Christians to hang with. The amazing thing is, I wasn’t yet a Christian myself. The only explanation I can come up with is that God had His hand on my life in a very intimate and personal way.
At the same time I was praying in the woods outside our trailer, I was applying for jobs — everywhere. The lumber mill, orderly jobs at nursing homes, McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell. The economy was in a terrible recession at the time and I was rejected by all of them, except one. The fire department was hiring and that turned out to be the only job offer I had. The first crew I was assigned to had a firefighter on it who invited me to join a Bible study that the crew held in the station at the end of each work day.
I could hardly believe it.
God used the Christian men I was exposed to on the fire department to completely change who I was. I went from being a burglar who loved sex and drugs to a firefighter who loved Jesus Christ.
Your Ideal You
All this brings us to the question: What is your ideal image of yourself? If someone were describing who you’re ideal self, what would they say?
“He’s a man who loves Jesus so much, he lives to do His will.”
“He’s a man who loves Jesus with everything he has, and loves others as himself.”
“She’s a woman who is a great blessing to her Lord, her family, and her friends.”
“He’s a man full of God’s wisdom.”
“She’s a woman who never says a bad word about anybody.”
“He’s a man full of God’s grace.”
I have a secret: You can become that person.
All it takes is a few simple actions on your part.
1) Petition Jesus to make you into that person — petition Him daily.
2) Find people who fit your description of who you want to become.
3) Find ways to spend time with those people and don’t give up until you do.
You Become Who You Hang With
I once set a goal for myself to become ranked in the top 5 as an amateur tennis player in my age group in the Pacific Northwest. The town I lived in has a good junior program. At the time they had a number of regionally ranked players and even a few nationally ranked players who were bound for division 1 college tennis programs and had a chance to become professionals. At age 43, my strategy was to join the junior tennis program and do whatever they did. When they practiced, I tried to practice. When they took a lesson, I tried to take a lesson. When they played a tournament, I tried to play a tournament. At 43 and working full time I was far from perfect in matching all of the activities of the ranked juniors. I didn’t do it completely but for the most part I prioritized my relationship with Christ, my family, and my work ahead of tennis. But even with these priorities in place, this principle is so powerful that at the end of the year I was ranked #2.
Do you want to follow Jesus more closely? Find people who love him with everything they have and connect with them.
Do you want to spend more time in God’s word? Find people who love God’s word and hang with them.
Do you desire more godly wisdom? Find wise godly people to spend time with.
The Most Important Person
Nothing will influence who you become more than spending time with Jesus.
Spend time with Jesus in prayer, in worship, in his word, in fellowship with His followers both inside and outside of church. Spend time with him regularly. Make your time with him as deep and meaningful as possible. Invest yourself in him, imitate him, and over time, you’ll become more like him.
Shortly after Jesus went up to heaven, Peter and John had to appear before the rulers, elders, and teachers of the law. The Bible says,
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)
Peter and John were changed because they had been with Jesus. They were unschooled, ordinary men, yet they demonstrated such courage, and represented Jesus so impressively that they astonished the authorities in Israel. They went on to become great leaders in the early church.
You can have a very similar experience.
Traveler and the Chaplain
Traveler and the Chaplain