What is your Tower of Babel?

Genesis 11:1–9 (ESV)
"Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth."

When we read this passage of Scripture, we see a people who desire to make a name for themselves by building a tower to the heavens. The tower itself is not sinful—God gives us knowledge and wisdom to do many things—but rather the sin lies within the reason for the tower. In making a name for themselves, they are bypassing God and thus are taking the glory wholly upon themselves for the abilities God has bestowed upon them. The Tower of Babel symbolizes man’s autonomy and the sinful desire to seek his own destiny apart from God. We can also see the grace of God through His direct involvement by confusing their language to avoid congregating in one place and rejecting him as a collective body. Some scholars believe this is to be restored one day where all will serve Him in one accord with a “pure speech” (Zephaniah 3:9).

What is your Tower of Babel? If we honestly examine our own lives, we can surely identify times where we have either not sought God’s will for our lives or have deliberately went against His Word and followed our own path. Whether it is giving in to a temptation that has plagued you for years or a destructive act or utterance in the heat of the moment, we all have a human nature that is geared toward pursuing evil. Born in our human pride, being self-sufficient is a mark of a strong man and considered a virtue of our society. To rely on someone or something other than ourselves is a sign of weakness in the minds of many. Thus, we have become a society that sees no need to rely on God nor seek His counsel for our lives. When viewed this way, Christianity becomes a mere crutch and hindrance for becoming self-reliant.

After all, many of us have grown up in an era where Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs promoted a secular path towards self-actualization and mainstream media promoted self-sufficiency and success is measured by job title, money, and possessions. We use the very gifts from God to alienate God from us. The free will He created in us allows us to stray from Him and make our own choices and in doing so, reject His purpose for our lives. Only in His infinite mercy can we have the opportunity for redemption and the chance to repent and turn back to a life pleasing our Lord.

The question is, how? How do we overcome the tendency to do evil?

While we cannot escape our sinful nature, we are no longer to allow it rule our lives (Romans 6:12-14). The easiest way to do this is mediate on His Word daily. Develop a habit—begin with just a few minutes each morning—of prayer and study. Ask God to open His Word up to you and to use you this day to bring Him glory. If you stick with it, a morning study will soon become an indispensable activity that will help shape your entire day. You will find that through such regular study, not only will you grow as a disciple, but your entire demeanor will change as well. You learn to recognize God’s grace every morning, which will then allow you to extend that same grace to every human contact you have throughout the day.

A final word of caution: reading is not studying. We must not only read a verse, but it is also important to understand the context of the verse, its meaning for the particular original audience, and what the application is for our own lives.