I woke up the other morning thinking of Lot’s wife. I didn’t know why. I can’t say I ever thought much about her before, but this morning she loomed large in my mind. She became a very important Biblical character.
I could almost see her. She probably lived a sumptuous life in Sodom. Her clothing was soft and luxurious. Her table was laden with the good things of the earth. Her home was large and beautifully decorated. She had status in her community and people looked up to her. She was also aware that things in Sodom were not right. She knew the people of the city were filled with wickedness, but she tolerated all of it because she loved the life she lived and she was loathe to give it up.
Then came that fateful morning when angels awoke her husband and commanded that he hurry and take his family and flee the city. She knew that day would come; she just thought it would be a long way off. Warned earlier, her husband, Lot, had been sent to warn his sons in law which married his daughters that they too should prepare to leave the city before the Lord destroyed it. They had only laughed. So, when morning arose, Lot’s wife left with her husband and two daughters lest they be consumed with the iniquity of the city. Lot lingered once along the way, but the angels firmly took hold of his hand and also the hand of his wife and daughters and they hustled them out warning them not to look back. Fire and brimstone commenced to rain down. Somewhere in all the excitement, Lot’s wife could contain herself no longer; she just had to get one glimpse. She looked back. She did not survive.
Becoming free from an obsession over material possessions and not looking back is a common theme among our Savior’s teachings. When the Rich Young Ruler told Jesus that he wished to become His disciple, our Lord admonished him to sell all that he had and give it to the poor and follow Him. (Matt 19:21) The rich young man turned away for he had many possessions. The Savior told another such potential disciple that “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9: 62) And when the Pharisees demanded of Him to know when the kingdom of God should come, he replied: “As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives …until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot’s wife.” (Luke 17: 26-32)
We have been no less admonished in our present day. Consider the words of Elder Dallin H. Oaks: “In descending order of intensity, materialism may be an obsession, a preoccupation, or merely a strong interest. Whatever its degree, an interest becomes materialism when it is intense enough to override priorities that should be paramount. . . . We have all seen examples of this pattern of stunted growth. After the precious seed (the message of the gospel) has begun to grow in the lives of some persons, they are diverted by their attention to the things of the world, and their spiritual fruits are choked out by ‘the deceitfulness of riches’. . . .The deceitfulness of riches can choke out the fruits of the gospel in many ways. A person who covets the wealth of another will suffer spiritually. . . . When we place our trust in our property, we have ‘carnal security.’ In that state of mind we are inclined to say that all must be well with us and with Zion because we are prospering, thus relying on worldly success as a mark of divine favor. He who does this is an easy mark for being led ‘carefully down to hell.