Old Testament Lesson 8
“Living Righteously in a Wicked World”- February 28, 2010
Many years ago I received a blessing reminding me to live in the world but not of the world.
What does it mean to you to live in the world but not of the world?
My understanding of what that phrase means has always been the same. To me, it has meant not getting caught up in the “worldy” items of the day. Not being on a quest to always have the best of everything and the most of everything. I equated being of the world as being materialistic and having the gathering of finery as a key goal. Even with that very narrow definition, it is something that I struggle with.
Today, let’s discuss more in depth what it really means from a broader definition.
To begin the discussion, let’s take a look in Genesis chapter 13.
Abraham and Lot returned from Canaan after they had fled to escape the famine. When they set up their homes, they did not live near one another.
Why do you think that is?
The correct reason that they didn’t live near each other is found in Genesis Chapter 13:5-6
SCRIPTURE #1 Genesis 13:5-6
5 And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.
6 And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together.
There was not room to support two herds of cattle.
Were Abraham and Lot the men working the herds in the field? No, they had herdsmen.
What happens if you put two groups of people with different bosses and tell them to serve their bosses at all costs- growing their investment? Or how do two 3 year olds act if you give them one toy to share and leave them alone to play together?
The herdsmen had conflict with one another.
Can you think of some everyday activities or situations that we or our kids may get in that are similar?
Last piece of candy
First to pick a toy
One job- two strong candidates
Let’s take a look at how Abraham handled it.
SCRIPTURE #2- Genesis 13:8-9
9 Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.
How can we learn from his example?
How does this story help us live “in the world- not of the world?”
When Lot moved to his new location, he built his home facing Sodom. He started out first living near Sodom and eventually lived in Sodom.
How do we, at times, face Sodom?
What does Sodom symbolize to us today?
In Mosiah we learn of the people at the time of King Benjamin and how they faced their tents.
SCRIPTURE #3- Mosiah 2:6
6 And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple, that thereby they might remain in their tents and hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them;
Why did they point their tents toward the temple?
How can we point our homes toward the temple instead of Sodom?
By facing the temple, how are we living in the world and not of the world?
As time continued, there were wars. Nearing the end of one, Lot was taken captive.
SCRIPTURE #4- Genesis 14:14
What does Abraham’s behavior tell us about what kind of man he was?
Who did Abraham meet while rescuing Lot?
- King of Sodom- The King of Evil
- Melchizedek- The King of Salem- The King of Righteousness
What exchanges took place between Abraham and these two kings?
- To Melchizedek he paid tithing
- King of Sodom wanted to give Abraham a gift
What was Abraham’s reasoning for not taking a gift from the King of Sodom?
SCRIPTURE #5- Genesis 14:23
23 That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:
Again let’s take a look at ourselves-
What are some “threads” we could receive now?
- Threads of Immortality
- Threads of Dishonesty
If we accept these threads- how are we more “of the world”?
Why is it important to not let any unrighteous into our lives?
When have you had an opportunity to turn away from the offering of a thread?
Next we go into Genesis chapter 18. In this chapter, we learn that Abraham is visited by three “holy men” who tell him that Sodom is going to be destroyed because of the wickedness of all in the city.
Abraham asked them how many righteous people would save the city. He started with 50 people and continued down.
What was the number that the Lord would save the whole city for? 10
Next, Lot is visited by 2 angels and they tell him to leave with his family and to not look back.
Why do you think he was told not to look back?
Commitment to the Lord
As we try to live in the world- what happens if we look back at the world of today?
It shows a reluctance of giving up for we have been asked to do
Lot’s wife wasn’t committed enough to doing as the Lord had said. When she looked back she was turned to a pillar of salt.
Why do you think that Lot was spared?
He was spared because the Lord remembered Abraham’s righteousness and spared his family
As we are living in the world, how can our righteousness help those we are close to?
In conclusion, what are some things we have learned from today’s lesson that place us of the world rather than just in?
- Association with sinners
- Tolerating inappropriate behavior
- Looking out for number one
Elder M Russell Ballard said the following in the May Ensign (or conference report for April of 1989)…
“In the Church, we often state the couplet, ‘Be in the world but not of the world.’ As we observe television shows that make profanity, violence, and infidelity commonplace and even glamorous, we often wish we could lock out the world in some way and isolate our families from it all. …
“Perhaps we should state the couplet previously mentioned as two separate admonitions. First, ‘Be in the world.’ Be involved; be informed. Try to be understanding and tolerant and to appreciate diversity. Make meaningful contributions to society through service and involvement. Second, ‘Be not of the world.’ Do not follow wrong paths or bend to accommodate or accept what is not right. …
“Members of the Church need to influence more than we are influenced. We should work to stem the tide of sin and evil instead of passively being swept along by it. We each need to help solve the problem rather than avoid or ignore it”