Comfort Zone Caution

Comfort Zone Caution

Comfort Zone (shutterstock_460088755)

The story goes that a mother ran into the bedroom when she heard her seven-year-old son scream. She found his two-year-old sister pulling his hair. She gently released the little girl’s grip and said comfortingly to the boy, “There, there, she didn’t mean it. She doesn’t know that it hurts.” He nodded his acknowledgment, and she left the room. As she started down the hall the little girl screamed. Rushing back in, she asked, “What happened? The little boy replied, “She knows now.”

We’ve all been there because sometimes the only way for someone to understand discomfort is to experience discomfort. But the problem is that all too often we have experienced so much discomfort that we spend most of our lives trying to avoid it. So we settle into what are commonly referred to as comfort zones. 

A comfort zone “is a psychological state in which things feel familiar to a person” resulting in “experiencing low levels of anxiety and stress” because “they are at ease and in control of their environment.”1 And while that sounds like the optimal place to be, comfort zones can actually become quite dangerous. 

That’s because comfort zones make us think that everything is OK simply because there is no conflict or tension to be faced. And that sense of calm becomes something we wish to maintain at all costs. As a result, we become susceptible to tolerating things that contradict what we know is right simply because we don’t want to face conflict or deal with something difficult. And when that happens, we’re just like Lot.

Lot was the nephew of Abraham who with his two daughters became the lone survivors of the Sodom destruction. While Lot was spared from this destruction, he almost succumbed to it. Notice in Genesis 19:15-16 that when “the angels urged Lot” to leave Sodom with his family, Lot “hesitated.” 

Why did Lot hesitate to leave Sodom? It wasn’t because Lot was a participant in Sodom’s wickedness. Lot is the lone resident of Sodom who is called “righteous,” according to 2 Peter 2:7. The fact that he is labeled “righteous” clearly implies that he did not participate in the sinful acts of his neighbors. Additionally, Lot didn’t hesitate to leave Sodom because he was unaware of their wickedness. When the angels arrived in Sodom, Lot refused to let them sleep in the town square. Genesis 19:3 says that he “insisted” that they stay with him. Such insistence seems to indicate that he was fully aware of the sinful activities of Sodom’s citizens. 

Since Lot was neither ignorant of Sodom’s sin nor was he a participant in it, it seems that his hesitation to leave was based solely on the fact that he and his family had grown comfortable with their surroundings. You can see their comfort level with Sodom grow as their proximity to Sodom shrank. Originally, Lot “settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom,” which indicates that he lived close to but not in the city itself (Genesis 13:12). However, in Genesis 14:12, Lot had moved within the city limits of Sodom because the text says that he “was dwelling in Sodom.” Then, by Genesis 19:1, Lot “was sitting in the gate of Sodom,” which “suggests he was doing business there and had been accepted in the community.”2 The point is that over time Sodom became home for Lot’s family, and, as a result, they grew complacent, accepting and tolerating its wickedness. In their minds they were peacefully coexisting with their surroundings, neither participating in them nor expressly condemning them. But over time their complacency developed into affection. This is evident when you consider what Lot’s wife did to earn her “pillar of salt” status.

Genesis 19:26 tells us that Lot’s wife “looked back” at Sodom, which resulted in her becoming “a pillar of salt.” Doesn’t it seem a little overboard to turn someone into a pillar of salt just for looking at something? Abraham suffered no consequences when in Genesis 19:28 “he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah.” So why did Lot’s wife suffer this consequence? It’s because Lot’s wife did more than just look at Sodom; she started going back to Sodom. This is evident from Jesus’ reference to Lot’s wife in Luke 17:31-33. As he taught about being prepared for His second coming, He said, 

On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.

In this passage, “Jesus clearly implies that Lot’s wife returned to Sodom.” Based on Jesus’ statement, “The command of the angel is broken not by glancing over one’s shoulder and seeing what should not be seen but in directing attention back and returning to the city.”3

The point is that because Lot and his family got comfortable in Sodom, they started tolerating things that they should have never tolerated. And, as a result, they compromised themselves spiritually. Does this sound like you? Have you grown complacent spiritually? Are you desensitized to the immorality around you? Are you tolerating behaviors, attitudes, or mindsets that are completely contrary to the will of God? Are you hesitating to distance yourself from those things that you know you shouldn’t be associated with? Have you grown comfortable with complacent Christianity? If that’s the case, then it’s time for you to do the one thing Lot hesitated to do. It’s time to abandon your comfort zone.


2John H. Walton, Victor H. Matthews, & Mark W. Chavalas, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2000): 51.

3 John H. Walton, The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001), 480.

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