Archive for the ‘attitude’ Tag

Let Your Dress Match Your Attitude   1 comment

Image result for image of modest Christian attire

Back in college, I took a road trip with some other Christian friends and we stopped at a church on Wednesday night. We didn’t really know anything about the church and we were just off the road. I remembering showering in cold water at a campground before we went, but I don’t think we gave any thought to dress standards. We were all Southern Baptist 20-somethings with Alaska’s practical style. Clean jeans and shirts who hadn’t sweated through were Sunday-evening-go-to-meeting garb, pretty much just like at home.

Unfortunately, the church we picked was a very fundamentalist congregation … you know, bun ladies, and dresses down to mid-calf without a female bicep in sight. The pastor changed his sermon just for us, talking about how women shouldn’t have unbound hair, or wear makeup or jewelry. As we were the only ones in the crowd that fit that description, we had no doubt as to who he was preaching at. I’d like to say we walked out or at least ran to the van for jackets to cover our biceps, but mostly we were just embarrassed and uncomfortable. So, I know what Paul’s readers felt when they reached our subject section for this week.

The church in Corinth had a problem with culture. They lived in a very pagan city and the culture around them was forever trying to creep in. We’re starting a new section in Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth. 1 Corinthians 11-14 focuses on how God’s people conduct themselves in a church worship setting. Through it, Paul touched on gender distinction, the Lord’s Supper, and spiritual gifts. We’re going to start with the roles of men and women in the churches.

First, remember that Paul had just concluded the last section with “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” That’s important because it provides a transition into the section we’re looking at now:

I praise you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions just as I passed them on to you. But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every manand the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.  1 Corinthians 11:2-3

Honor your head for the sake of Biblical teaching

Image result for image of modest Christian attireNothing like starting off with a little controversy. I know women who utterly reject the Bible because this passage insults them. Of course, they haven’t read it thoughtfully and in context with the rest of the Bible. It just justifies their rejection of what they do not know or understand.

These five verses aren’t so much about how women fix their hair as about the importance of honoring your spiritual head. Paul began with praise for the Corinthians for remembering him in everything and honoring the traditions he had taught them. Was he being sarcastic? How could his praise really be sincere? The church at Corinth had been disobedient to many of Paul’s “traditions” or “teachings.” In just a few verses, Paul will adamantly state that he will not praise them! I think he started with praise so that they would be receptive to critical advice (see 1:4-9). Speaking some positive words to a person that you are in conflict with before addressing your concerns is always wise and may result in the person hearing what you have to say.

I have a dozen books in my home library by evangelical authors who differ radically from one another on their view of women in ministry. Pastors and professors I respect for their intelligent handling of the Scripture hold widely differing views on the role of women in the church, including women’s ordination. There is even a difference in opinion among leaders of my own church. They finally got over the whole a-woman-can’t-be-a-worship-leader issue when a talented female musician was the only one available to step into the role. God leading? I think so. But women still can’t teach men above the elementary school level and I struggle with that. Women still can’t be deacons and that bothers me because there were female deacons in the churches Paul founded. There is no evidence women ever served as pastors, so there is likely a line drawn there, in light of Paul’s words here in 1 Corinthians. This is one area of doctrine where all of us could use a large dose of humility and caution. Anyone who speaks with strong dogmatism on this topic is actually demonstrating his or her ignorance. This is not an easy topic.

In this passage, Paul introduced the basic premise that everyone has a “head.” The word “head” is difficult to interpret because it can have three possible meanings in Greek:

  • prominence
  • authority
  • source

The same ambiguity exists in English when we talk about the head/top of a mountain, the head/leader of a company, or the head/source of a river. In most cases where “head” does not mean a particular body part, the word carries the nuance of prominence. Thus, Paul seems to mean that just as Christ as the Son acknowledges the preeminence of the Father and men acknowledge the preeminence of Christ over them, so women acknowledge the preeminence of men in the male-female relationship (or at least the husband-wife relationship). And this is where most modern women balk at the concept and where many men try to take advantage. Prominence in a relationship does not imply superiority. It certainly doesn’t carry that meaning in the relationship between the Father and the Son, Who are coequal. So why should it mean that between men and women in the church?

Image result for image of modest Christian attireWhile Jesus was on earth, He modeled sacrificial servant leadership (see Mark 10:42-45). He always put His Father and His Father’s will first. Jesus was fully God and equal to the Father, but chose of His own accord to grant the Father prominence. Likewise, men are called to submit to Christ and put Him first in every area. This means living sacrificially for the good of others. Similarly, the head of a woman is man. Evidently, Paul referred to women who were in a dependent relationship to a man, such as a wife to a husband or a daughter to a father. Paul probably did not mean every woman universally since he said the male is the head of woman, or a woman, but not the women. He was evidently not talking about every relationship involving men and women (for example the relationship between men and women in the workplace). Paul was saying that as a wife, daughter, or church member, women ought to honor their spiritual head: husband (Ephesians 5:22-33), father (Ephesians 6:1-3), or elders (1 Timothy 2:9-3:7).

Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered disgraces his head. But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered disgraces her headfor it is one and the same thing as having a shaved head. For if a woman will not cover her head, she should cut off her hairBut if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shavedshe should cover her head. 1 Corinthians 11:4-6

Image result for image of modest Christian attireIn the 1st century Corinthian setting, men apparently didn’t have their heads covered, but women did. It took some digging to find out why. Apparently in Corinth at the time, men with covered heads were associated with idolatry, thus men in the Christian church honored Christ as preeminent by not covering their heads. Also at that time in Corinth, women covered their heads with a scarf or shawl that concealed their hair as a demonstration of their respect for their husbands and the church leadership.

Culturally, refusing to wear such a shawl was as disgraceful as refusing to cover up in Muslim culture today. Muslims will often say that a woman who appears in mixed company with her head uncovered is seeking to attract men. That would be distracting in the worship setting. Today, it might be a really short dress or a plunging cleavage. Worship is not the time to dwell on male-female attractiveness. It’s the time to focus on God and His Word. Women have a responsibility to both God and men to dress modestly so as not to attract unnecessary attention to themselves.

Men, you’re also are responsible to vigilantly guard your minds during worship and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). We all attend church to worship God, not to eyeball the opposite sex. We all need to do our part and seek to honor one another.

So, is Paul saying Christian women must cover their heads in church meetings today? I don’t think so. I think the culture he lived in was very different from ours. The head covering is merely a cultural symbol of the honor and submission that should characterize our Christian lives. For a woman to wear a head covering today would seem to be a distinctively humiliating experience. Many women—even Biblically submissive wives—resist the notion precisely because they feel awkward and self-conscious. You might as well shave our heads if you’re going to humiliate us. Plus, it would confuse and even concern visitors and we’ll learn in 1 Corinthians 14 that the the church should not do things that might freak out unbelieving visitors.

Image result for image of modest Christian attireFrom this Scripture, we know that men and women were equally free to pray and prophesy when the church gathered. The meaning of the term “prophecy” is debated, but we will see in Chapter 14 that “prophesy” is for the edification of the church and is very close to what we would call teaching or preaching today. It is reflecting or illuminating the Word of God. It could take the form of a word of instruction, refutation, reproof, admonition, or comfort for others (see Chapters 13 and 14). Women in the early church who had the gift of prophecy were free to exercise it. They were also permitted to pray in public meetings. Paul’s churches allowed greater freedom to women than the surrounding culture did, but he drew a line at women being elders who exercised authoritative teaching gifts during the corporate worship service (1 Timothy 2:9-3:7). Moreover, they were to honor their head. Paul is not trying to repress women and to restrain their expression of spiritual gifts, but to impress upon them the need to project modesty and virtue in their dress.

 

Honor Your Head for the Sake of Creation

For a man should not have his head coveredsince he is the image and glory of GodBut the woman is the glory of the man. For man did not come from womanbut woman from man. Neither was man created for the sake of womanbut woman for man. For this reason a woman should have a symbol of authority on her headbecause of the angels.  1 Corinthians 11:7-10

Spiritual headship has been true since God created the world. The Genesis creation narratives show that both man and woman equally bear the image and the glory of God (Genesis 1:26-27; 5:1-2). But in Genesis 2 when God created Eve, He took her from Adam’s rib. Woman was created from the man and for the man. In other words, woman completes man. As the help and strength man needs, woman helps him be all that God desires. Woman reflects the glory of man when she submits to God’s order.

But what does “glory” mean here? Ancient culture was an “honor–shame” culture, meaning people normally protected the honor of their family and the family name and would not knowingly bring dishonor and shame to it. This concept may lie in the background of this passage. By going unveiled, a woman was bringing shame on herself and her reputation, and that of her family. Paul implied that a woman should be bringing honor and glory to herself and her family, and especially to her husband and any other men in her life.

Now verse 10 is weird. It’s mysterious. “Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.” My Bible study helps tell me this verse is considered one of the most difficult verses in the entire Bible. It’s an important verse, however, because Paul is clearly summing something up. You can see that in the use of the word “therefore” which means “in light of what I just said.” So we ought to seek to understand it. According to my study helps, the phrase “a symbol of” doesn’t appear in the Greek text. But that word “authority” is in there, which usually means “having the freedom or right to choose.” The best interpretation I found was that the woman has authority over her head (man) to do as she pleases. She can choose to submit or not. Maybe Paul meant that women have freedom to decide how they will pray and prophesy within the constraint that Paul had imposed, namely, with heads covered. An elder friend of mine said “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” If dressing modestly is the price to be paid for exercising God’s gifts freely, so be it.

The final phrase, “because of the angels” is a mystery to all interpreters. Really, nobody knows. Perhaps Paul was encouraging women to worship with that same submissive humility as angelic ministers, who are the guardians of God’s created order.

In any casein the Lord woman is not independent of mannor is man independent of woman. For just as woman came from manso man comes through womanBut all things come from God. 1 Corinthians 11:11-12

Paul then concluded with strong emphasis on the mutuality of men and women in marriage in the church. Paul was still arguing from the creation order, particularly mutual interdependence. The phrase “in the Lord” clearly envisions Christian marriage and life in the body of Christ. And this mutual dependence of man and woman speaks of full equality in personhood (1 Peter 3:7). We can’t get along without each other. We are mutually dependent on each other. We complement one another. Paul was concerned to promote love between the sexes. Neither man nor woman because of their different positions or advantages should consider themselves better, or treat the other with contempt or condescension. This mutual dependence of the man and the woman is grounded in creation. The first woman, Eve, was originally created from the man. But from that point on every single man is birthed by a mother. Paul clearly saw their inter-dependence as grounded in the Lord Himself. All things are from God, which gives us another reason for humility in the relationships between believing men and women.

It’s common to read the first part of this passage and insist Paul taught that women are inferior to men, partly on the basis of the story of the creation of woman from man in  Genesis 2, but the last two verses remind us that ever since the creation of Eve, the order has been reversed (i.e., men are now born from women). When all is said and done, there is equality between men and women. Neither of them is independent of the other; both need each other. In Paul’s prior letter to the Galatians, he’d written “there is neither…male nor female” (Galatians 3:28). Paul seems to have struggled in this passage. He didn’t want the Corinthians to interpret his letter to mean that “in the Lord” women are inferior to men. We all come from God, and all of us equally belong to God through his Son, Jesus.

Honor Your Head for the Sake of Nature’s Pattern

Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man has long hairit is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hairit is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 1 Corinthians 11:13-15

Verse 13 is the key verse in this entire section because Paul clearly emphasized the single point of his passage: Women should stop praying with their heads uncovered. Paul oscillated back and forth between men and women in 11:4-15. In 11:13 he broke this pattern and focused solely on women. This is a literary device that Biblical writers used to bring home their point. This verse also contains the only imperative besides 11:6 where the point is that a woman should cover herself.

In the culture of 1st century Corinth, it was not proper for a woman to act as a spokesman for people with God by praying publicly with her head uncovered. To do so was tantamount to claiming the position of a man in God’s order. The apostle did not think it wise for Christian women to exercise their liberty in a way that would violate socially accepted behavior even though they were personally submissive. Let your dress match your attitude.

Obviously, when Paul referred to Nature, he was not saying that in the world of animals all males have short hair and all females have long hair. Just think about lions and recognize that’s not what he meant. Historical evidence suggests that for 1st-century men long hair was considered effeminate, even homosexual …. something that Paul in Romans 1 considers contrary to nature. By “nature” Paul evidently meant how his culture felt about what was natural.

Paul again used “glory” here when he claimed that the long hair of a woman “is her glory” (11:15). It’s unlikely he was using the word in the same sense as he used it in 11:7. That was about the honor-shame culture of the ancient Near East. Here, the word seems to refer to the beauty of women’s long hair. Because long hair can make a woman look so attractive and beautiful, Paul felt comfortable using this fact as a secondary argument for why women need a covering on their heads.

Honor your head for the sake of apostolic authority

If anyone intends to quarrel about this, we have no other practicenor do the churches of God. 1 Corinthians 11:16

Paul’s final argument appeals to apostolic authority. If any of his readers still did not feel inclined to accept Paul’s reasoning, he informed them that the other churches followed what he had just explained. Some women were evidently discarding their head covering in public worship. Interestingly, Paul brought up the idea of “practice” or custom. There are other places in Paul’s writings where he dealt with cultural practices within the church. Here, the issue is obedience to what Paul said from beginning to end. He was calling for women within the church at Corinth to obey Biblical instruction and by extension for Christian women today to be obedient to carry out God’s desire of orderly and honorable worship.

So this is a challenging passage that presents some action points. I don’t wear dresses to my mid-calf and sleeves to my elbows, nor is my hair in a bun and I like jewelry. I dress modestly for my culture, but I don’t feel a calling to wear a hajib. But I do know Christian women from other cultures who do dress much more modestly than I do and I don’t condemn them for that. It’s their choice. I think this passage speaks about far more than clothing styles.

Wives, please consider your relationship with your husband. If you are acting in a way that undermines your husband, then you should rethink what you are doing. It’s not that he’s more capable or better than you, but he is the head, the prominent one in your relationship. Most of the world will see your relationship in that light. Thus, you demean yourself if you bring dishonor to him.

Husbands, please support your wives in their ministries. We often exhort women to support their men in their ministries, but men ought to also support women in theirs. It shouldn’t be second-place just because it’s the woman doing it. There is a man and woman in our church — she is the worship leader … she leads the choir and the congregational singing and plans special musical events for holidays. He is the audio-visual guy. Everybody knows who Lori is and nobody knows who Eric is. He’s okay with that. If you ask him, he’ll say he knows his ministry is every bit as important as hers because she can’t do her job without him and he’d have no reason to do his job without her.

Church, please reevaluate your view of women in ministry. Why do you hold the views that you do? Have you thoroughly studied what the Scriptures say on women in ministry, or are you basing your conclusions on what you have always assumed was correct or are culturally comfortable with? I challenge you to prayerfully think through some of these issues and interact with people over what role women should play in the local church.

I think there is a balance to be found in Paul’s words. We should hold up Biblical leadership and also allow women to serve in the church in more capacities than the nursery and little kid Sunday Schools and the fellowship hall. Finding that balance in a modern society will require effort, but in this way, we honor God and show His people in a favorable light.

It Isn’t Over … Yet   Leave a comment

The apostle Paul covered a lot of topics in his first letter to the Corinthians. Some subjects are so big, it’s not a good idea to try to address them in one blog post. And, so we continue from where we left off last week.

Image result for image of it's not over until it's overPaul was discussing  how the Christian life is a lot like a race or other sporting event. It required self-discipline, focus and endurance. In a race, it doesn’t matter where you start. Sometimes the future winners start out far back in the  field. Nobody remembers that when  you cross the finish line. Victory is won at the finish line, not in the starting blocks. Furthermore, the Christian life is not a 100-meter dash; it is a marathon that requires endurance and a lifetime commitment to keep running with the intent of finishing strong. Because we are not competing against other Christians, but only on how well we follow God’s guidance for our individual lives, if we have fallen far behind in our Christian race, there is still time to finish well.

Just because you’re saved does not mean you will finish well

Just prior to our subject passage, Paul shared that he strove to keep himself in check because he didn’t want to end up being disqualified from the prize of God’s approval. He followed with a major history lesson, imploring the Corinthians and us to learn from the past. Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat its mistakes.

For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they were all drinking from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. But God was not pleased with most of them, for they were cut down in the wilderness. 1 Corinthians 10:1-5

All of God’s people experience great spiritual privileges. The Corinthians had been blessed with the same spiritual blessings as Old Testament Israel. All Christians are blessed with those same blessings. The Israelites that left Egypt were saved and protected as they wandered in the wilderness. They observed Passover, which is an act of faith, then came out of Egypt … a picture of salvation. Paul correlated the Passover Lamb of Exodus 12 with the cross of Christ. The Israelites experienced salvation as a nation – ALL were under the cloud; ALL passed through the sea; ALL were baptized into Moses; ALL ate the same spiritual food; ALL drank the same spiritual drink.

Related imageChristians are heirs to many of the spiritual privileges the Old Testament Israelites experienced.

  • As Israel “was under the cloud”, we experience God’s protection and guidance.
  • As Israel “passed through the sea”, we have “passed from death to life” (John 5:24).
  • As Israel was “baptized into Moses”, Christians have been “baptized into Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:13).
  • As Israel ate of the Passover, we celebrate the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice for us (1 Corinthians 11:17-34).
  • As Israel was “followed” by Christ, Christ follows us (Hebrews 13:5).

Can you honestly say that you are awed by the fact that God saved you? Do you ever pause to wonder that out of all the people in the history of the world, God chose to save you?

Having noted the privileges enjoyed by God’s people, Paul drew a sharp contrast. God was displeased with most of the Israelites. The word “nevertheless” emphatically brings out the contrast between how many were blessed (“all”) versus how many with whom God was not pleased (“most of them”). This declaration is an obvious understatement as over two million Israelites came out of Egypt, yet only two adults (Joshua and Caleb) were allowed to enter the Promised Land. The rest died before Israel was allowed to enter. Tragically disqualified by death, their carcasses literally scattered across the wilderness, Notice that they did not go back to Egypt and get “unredeemed.”  The blood of the Lamb, which had taken them out of Egypt, was irreversible. They did not lose what they had, but they lost the reward God wanted to give them.

Just focus on one individual — Moses. Obviously, Moses was saved, yet on account of unbelief (Numbers 20:12; Jude 5), he did not finish well. If this can happen to Moses, it can happen to you and me. We must humble ourselves and take God’s warning very seriously. 

Many of God’s people experience great spiritual failure.

These things happened as examples for usso that we will not crave evil things as they did. So do not be idolatersas some of them were. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” And let us not be immoralas some of them were, and 23,000 died in a single dayAnd let us not put Christ to the testas some of them didand were destroyed by snakes. And do not complainas some of them didand were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written for our instructionon whom the ends of the ages have come. So let the one who thinks he is standing be careful that he does not fall. No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:6-13

Note the liberal use of “us” Paul brought himself, the Corinthians and all Christians into the story through use of this pronoun..

Related imageThere’s a warning given to “us” collectively as Paul summarized five disqualification stories from the 40 years of wilderness wandering. It is important for us to understand these Old Testament accounts, because all Christians are as accountable as Israel was. “Now these things happened as examples for us so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.” (verse 6) “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” (verse 11) Everything between these bracketing comments are lessons drawn from history. Paul wanted us to see ourselves here because there’s a danger that we too might fall into sin like Israel and be disqualified from our reward.

There is a single source for all four of the sins Paul addressed – craving evil things (10:6b). This references an event that took place about a year after the Exodus (Numbers 11). Israel had been given the law, built the tabernacle, and begun to travel when they began to crave these evil things called … fresh vegetables. Yeah, they were fed up with manna, and they wanted to go back to Egypt where there were cucumbers, garlic, and onions. That gets a laugh from most modern audiences, but take a pause and consider it in modern terms. How often are we guilty of “craving” a new car, a larger home, a new partner, a new wardrobe? In light of eternity, these cravings are on par with cucumbers, garlic, and onions. No, really! Consider it! In eternity, what difference will it make what kind of car I drove or how large my home was? What difference will it make how successful I was at my job? Who will ask me what material possessions I provided for my children? Will I even care about those things? Of course, I won’t. I’ll be in paradise and those things won’t matter. Yet, Paul wanted us to know that craving evil things can keep us from finishing well.

Paul focused on four sins and we should pay attention to these because they are so like us..

1) Idolatry: “Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, ‘THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.” The idolatry Paul referred to took place during the giving of the law at Mount Sinai (Exodus 32). While Moses spent 40 days on the mountain, the people became fearful and restless. They started to distrust that God even existed, and they asked Aaron to create an alternative god for them. Clay-footed Aaron gave in and created the golden calf. The result was an orgy with eating and drinking. Similarly, the Corinthians were guilty of idolatry through their temple feasts (10:14-22).

For you and me, idolatry is putting anything or anyone in God’s rightful place in our lives. Anything can become an idol, even our Christian experience. Fearful of intimacy with the living God of the universe, some of us try to stay very busy in Christian activity, so we don’t have to deal with Him. Yeah, success in ministry can be an idol. Love relationships in the body of Christ can become an idol. A concern for a healthy self-image can become idolatrous, because we don’t believe that God Himself can be enough. When we demand that our Christian experience and activity give us meaning and purpose, it has become an idol. And, by the way, I struggle with this too.

(2) Immorality: “Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and 23,000 fell in one day.” The Israelites engaged in sexual immorality throughout their wilderness wandering. Further on in the desert, the Israelites participated in one of the Moabites’ religious feasts (Numbers 25:1-9) that involved sexual immorality. One of the Corinthian church members was having an affair with his step-mother (5:1-2), and others had to be commanded to flee sexual immorality (6:18).

The Corinthian church wasn’t the only New Testament church to struggle with sexual immorality and we’re not exempt either … not in thought and action. So here are some ways to guard yourself against sexual morality:

  • Stay honest with your spouse. Even though it may be difficult, tell your spouse when you are struggling with sexual temptation.
  • Monitor your marriage. Beware of child-centered marriages. Invest, first and foremost, in your spouse.
  • Recognize that work can be a danger zone. Baltimore psychologist, Shirley Glass, has studied adultery and has determined that 25% of women and 44% of men have affairs. Of those men and women that do have affairs, the majority of them have their affairs with a coworker.
  • Beware of the lure of the Internet. Use various safeguards to keep yourself from succumbing to on-line sexual sin.
  • Commit to an accountability relationship. Howard Hendricks, a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, has studied 237 instances of Christian leaders who have experienced moral failure. He found one common factor: not one of the 237 had accountability relationships with other men.
  • Spend time in God’s word. All of us have seven days each week and everyone has 96 15-minute periods of time every day. Surely we can find a little time to read God’s word every day.

Sexual immorality can keep us from finishing well. We have seen this again and again in the Christian world.  Persevere in your marriage vows. If you are single, stay pure and wait on God to provide you with a spouse. The consequences can be severe when you take matters into your own hands. However, if you wait on God, He will reward you with a greater sense of intimacy with Him.

3) Testing God: “Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.” In Numbers 21, the Israelites tested God by taxing His patience. They continued to complain, even though He faithfully provided for them (21:4-9). His provision of manna and water was inadequate from their point of view, and they despised it (21:5). As a result, God destroyed them with serpents! God does not look kindly on a lack of faith.

The Corinthians had given evidence of being dissatisfied with God’s provision. They were disgruntled with God’s servants (1 Corinthians 1:12). They repulsed God with their sinful arrogance (4:18; 8:1). They indicated dissatisfaction with the Lord’s Supper by participating in pagan feasts (10:14-22). They were divided over class distinctions (11:17-34). We modern Christians can test God in similar ways and risk the chastening hand of God. Paul wanted us to know that idolatry can keep us from finishing well.

4) Grumbling: “Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.” The Israelites grumbled throughout their wilderness experience (Exodus 15 through Numbers 17). This sinful behavior began one month after the Exodus. God’s people grumbled incessantly for a period of two years, and then God decreed that all those 20 years old or older would not be permitted to enter the Promised Land. They would be made to wander in the desert until the last rebel was dead (Number 14:26-35).

Paul’s deliberate link with testing God (10:9) demonstrates that grumbling is particularly associated with putting God to the test (Exodus 17:2-3). Specifically, it seems that the episode Paul reflected upon was the Israelites’ grumbling about food. On these occasions, God’s anger was particularly kindled against them (Numbers 11:1; 14:2-4). In Numbers 11:1-3, God sent fire that consumed some of the people on the edge of the camp. As the primary cook in my family, I can appreciate the sentiment.

In Numbers 16, Israel also grumbled against both Moses and Aaron. This resulted in Korah leading a rebellion where nearly 15,000 died. How would you feel if today’s newspaper reported that the military had executed 15,000 people? Suppose the victims were not criminals, foreign agitators, or political radicals, but ordinary citizens who were protesting the way their country was being run. We like to think it can’t happen here, but in Numbers 16 we read that God responded like that to ancient Israel. He took the lives of 15,000 of His chosen people because they were complaining about the way He was caring for them.

This section is marked by the theme of ingratitude for all the blessings that God had given the Israelites. He’d given them His presence, provision, availability and power, but God’s people wanted more. Can you relate? Have you ever thought about the fact that when you grumble and complain, either against God directly or against those to whom He has delegated leadership over you (parents, teachers, pastors, bosses), you are really questioning God’s wisdom, grace, goodness, and righteousness?

I find no evidence for personal guardian angels in Scripture, but I believe various angels are protecting us from spiritual and physical harm. Yet, there comes a time in the lives of certain rebellious believers when God “lifts the shield” and we face a death sentence. Instead of dispatching angels to watch over us, He assigns the destroying angel to take us home to heaven early!

Stand on Firm Ground

Image result for image of no temptation has overcome youThe last two verses of this section (10:12-13) give a wonderful summary that balances warning with hope, encouragement and grace. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” Those who have great beginnings may still fall and ruin the latter days of their lives. The child of God who thinks he has arrived is being set up by the devil to be knocked down. Those on the mountain top are the most vulnerable to attack. The higher you are, the farther the fall. Elijah was on the mountain when he defied the prophets of Baal. The next day he ran across Israel as fast as he could, away from the painted face of Jezebel. He went from one magnificent, climatic victory to dismal defeat. As he sat under a juniper tree, defeated and discouraged. God came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He went from bravery to shrinking cowardice. Are all the breaks going for you? Beware, because defeat could happen to you.

Fortunately, we can choose to avoid disqualification and finish well. Paul closed this passage with these powerful words: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” The Greek word translated “temptation” (peirasmos) can also be translated “testing.” Practically speaking, this term could be translated “temptation and testing.” Every temptation is a test; every test is a temptation.

Temptation is:

Common to every person. There is no temptation that is unique. A literal translation of the Greek would be, “No temptation has seized you that is not human” (anthropinos, i.e., manlike). No one can hide behind the argument that his sin is unique and so he can be excused. It is impossible to be in business and not be tempted to sacrifice people for profit. Government workers can be regularly tempted to forfeit integrity for promotions. A mother of preschoolers will be tempted by this culture’s priorities to think of herself as a victim of her family’s needs. All of these are sins that come as a result of temptation.

 God controls the context of our temptation. We’ve all seen load-limit signs on highways, bridges, and elevators. Knowing that too much strain can cause severe damage or complete collapse, engineers determine the exact amount of stress that various materials can safely endure. Posted warnings tell us not to exceed the maximum load. Human beings also have their load limits, which vary from person to person. Some people can bear the pressure of trial and temptation better than others; yet everyone has a breaking point and can take only so much. In this verse, Paul promised that God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tested or tempted beyond what you are able. Yet, we must draw on God to deliver us. Mother Theresa once said, “I know God won’t give me more than I can handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.”

God personally and providentially provides a specific way of escape. The use of the definite article (“the”) with both “temptation” and “way of escape” points to a particular way of escape that is available in each temptation. Paul did not mean there is only one way of escape that is available regardless of the temptation. His point is: Look for the escape route! There is a way out! Overcoming temptation is not a matter of simply sitting down on a sofa with a box of chocolates and telling God to make the way of escape from whatever sin is tempting us. We are responsible to do our part. Paul use of the words “bear,” “stand up,” and “flee” tell us this. Paul wants us to be victorious. He wants us to persevere through our tests and temptations. He is there for us!

Paul told us that we must learn from our fathers—from Israel. We don’t have to repeat their mistakes. We can be obedient to God and finish well. Remember, it doesn’t matter how you begin, it only matters how you end. It’s not over until it’s over

Gimme a Smile: Life lessons from Alaska | Juneau Empire – Alaska’s Capital City Online Newspaper   Leave a comment

Although she is in Southeastern, which is nearly 1000 miles from Fairbanks, so something don’t apply, she has the basic Alaskan attitude.

Gimme a Smile: Life lessons from Alaska | Juneau Empire – Alaska’s Capital City Online Newspaper.

Posted July 6, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Alaska

Tagged with , , ,

thebibliophagist

a voracious reader. | a book blogger.

cupidcupid999

adventure, art, nature, travel, photography, wildlife - animals, and funny stuff

Republic-MainStreet

The Peaceful Revolution Liberate Main Street

atleastihaveafrigginglass

What could possibly go wrong?

Who the Hell Knows?

The name says it all.

Rebellious Hazelnuts

Surreal Stories, Very Tall Tales

Adjusting My Sails

When the wind doesn't blow the way you want, adjust your sails

Stine Writing

Poetry, Positivity, and Connecting!

Writer vs the World

In search of beauty, inspired by literature.

%d bloggers like this: