Busyness hides underlying spiritual issues
But God has slowed our lives down recently and we’re forced to face some of those issues – uncomfortable as they may be for us. Our church-wide daily Bible readings in 1 Corinthians 8-10 over the last few days is mercifully turning our individual and collective attention toward some of those issues. No, we don’t have a problem with eating food sacrificed to idols today, but we do have the same challenges our first century brothers and sisters had with idolatry, living to please ourselves at the expense of others, and incurring God’s discipline in our lives as a result. These are difficult teachings to swallow – but we ignore them at our own peril – risking God’s chastening hand and left to wonder why. The only true God (8:6 = “yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live…”) rightly deserves and desires our undivided devotion, displayed in all that we do (10:31 = “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”) Surrendering our rights to not cause anyone to stumble (8:13) or cause a hinderance to the gospel (9:12) and giving ourselves wholly to winning souls for Christ (9:19-22) is an important part of winning “a crown that will last forever (9:25)” – the only prize truly worth our undivided passion and pursuit! So, when we give our hearts and devotion to other “gods” (8:5) – idols such as “indulging in revelry” (over-indulgence in food, drink, or anything else), “sexual immorality”, “testing Christ” and “grumbling”, we incur God’s discipline (10:7-10) and “arouse the Lord’s (righteous) jealousy (10:22).” God mercifully reveals our addictions to us so that we can repent of these destructive behaviors and be freed from their tyranny in our lives. “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did (10:6).” But take heart! You are not alone in this trial – we’re all in it together. “No temptation (or test – see NIV footnote) has overtaken you except what is common to mankind (10:13a).” And God himself is overseeing, managing, and shepherding the whole process: “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted (or tested) beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted (tested), he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it (10:13b).” Commentator David Guzik explains it this way: “God has promised to supervise all temptation that comes at us through the world, the flesh or the devil. He promises to limit it according to our capability to endure it – according to our capability as we rely on Him, not our capability as we rely only on ourselves. Satan would destroy us in a minute if God would let him, even as he wanted to destroy Job (Job 1:6-12) and Peter (Luke 22:31), but God will not let him. Like a mom who keeps her child from the candy aisle in a store, knowing the child couldn’t handle that temptation, God keeps us from things we can’t handle. But what we can and can’t handle changes over the years.” I know we’re all tempted to skim over the challenging passages that invariably come up in our daily Bible readings and not take the time, or do the heart work necessary, to apply them as God intends for us to do. But that’s where the real growth occurs! That’s how the shackles of our addictions can be removed, and we can be set free from our besetting sins and live lives of peace, joy and glory to God! So, don’t shrink back from the challenges in God’s Word (Hebrews 10:39). Rely on the immeasurable power of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:20); stand in the reassuring grace of Christ’s blood (Romans 5:1-2); be encouraged that we’re all in it together (1 Corinthians 10:13); and let’s make every effort to grow in this time of extra time (2 Peter 1:3-11)!