Since I last wrote two weeks ago, we have finished the book of Acts and are now reading 1 Corinthians together. In today’s reading, our focus is on chapter 10. This chapter has two primary themes: it is a strong warning against idolatry, and an equally strong encouragement to glorify God.
Paul begins by warning the Corinthian people against putting anything – another person, an object, a behavior – in God’s rightful place. He mentions sexual immorality, testing God, and…grumbling. Paul writes, “We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.” (1 Corinthians 10: 10) Grumbling? When I’m overwhelmed, I can be a good grumbler. A really good grumbler, actually. I try not to, but it happens more often than I’d like to admit. So, reading Paul’s words about grumbling and idolatry really made me think. How is grumbling a form of idolatry? Personally, I grumble when I think that I should be treated better, or that a situation should have turned out differently. Basically, I grumble when I’m making everything about me. Ouch. Right? What should I do – what should we do – when we are tempted to grumble? This is what I’m going to do: since I grumble when I feel overwhelmed, I’m going to do a better job asking for help. There are plenty of people in my life who are ready and willing to help me – and I’m pretty sure it is impossible for me to request help and to grumble at the same time.
Next, Paul gives his readers hope. He explains that even though we will face temptation as a follower of Christ, God is faithful and will always – always – provide us with an escape route from that temptation. He says, “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) Did you catch that God provides us with the way (ESV)? One way? How, then, do we know what that way is? I believe that He is The Way. We stay close to Him. We read His word. We pray. Then, we will be less likely to bend to temptations, and when we do – and we will, because we are all sinners (Romans 3:23) – we will be more likely to quickly glimpse that one specific escape route: the one that leads directly back to him.
Paul’s last words in this chapter are both beautiful and challenging: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:21). I remember when I was a new mom, hearing a speaker suggest that when we performed the more mundane tasks of motherhood – like changing diapers and washing toilets – we should praise God that He has given us the ability to do those things, and consider our daily chores a privilege. I remember jumping on that bandwagon right away -only to forget a day or an hour later, and begin grumbling to myself in my head. With perspective, and age, I’ve come to think of this verse in a different way. Now, throughout the day, I praise Him for the privilege of walking through my life with Him. I seek to glorify His name by doing the work that He has called me to do each day. Without grumbling.