Ah, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah... the wicked cities Abraham lobbied for. We don’t know how many people were living in the cities, but we do know that—at the very least—not even ten of them were "righteous." In the end, only three were found to be "righteous." Almost four, but Lot’s wife didn’t quite make it. Her obsession for everything she was leaving behind cost her her life.
Sometimes the details of this story gets a little mixed up in our thinking. For instance, as the joke goes, one child wrote this about Lot’s wife on a Bible class test: "Lot’s wife was a pillar of salt by day and a ball of fire by night." Hmmmm... funny, but not quite right.
How about the “righteous” detail in this story? Do we ever get that a little mixed up? I think we must, because here’s a revelation I encountered during my reading today: Lot and his family weren’t actually "righteous" (at least not in the way we normally define the word). They weren't saved because they were righteous. They were saved because they were willing to leave.
How do I know Lot wasn’t righteous? Check out verses 7-8, when Lot was trying to persuade the men of the city not to gang rape the visitors in his house: "No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them." Gee, thanks Dad.
In other words, "My friends don’t do this wicked thing. Do this wicked thing instead!" Lot’s not looking so "righteous" here, is he? But what makes Lot and his family different from all the other people in Sodom and Gomorrah was that they were willing to listen to God's messengers. At the very least, they were willing to be dragged out of the city.
So, what does this tell us about God? He saves those who are willing to be saved. God doesn’t actually save us because we’re righteous. (We’re not, by the way.) He saves those who are willing to listen. In fact, He can only save us when we’re willing to listen to Him, because only He is able to do the work of restoration that needs to be done in our lives, and only we can give Him the consent to do that work.
That’s why Paul equates faith with righteousness in Romans 4. When we trust God, when we are willing to listen to Him, He looks at us and sees righteousness. When we are willing to listen, there is no longer any obstacle to His setting right in us everything that has gone wrong. He is mighty to save, and indeed, He will save all who are willing to be saved!