So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God – even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
1 Corinthians 10:31-33 (NIV)
Read: 1 Corinthians 10
Consider: Having dealt with food offered to idols in 1 Corinthians 8, Paul briefly returns in 10:14-33 to the theme of idol feasts and how we should use our freedom in Christ in such a way that prevents others stumbling and leads some to be saved. This reinforces what Paul said in 9:22 – I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.
The first section of 1 Corinthians 10 deals with warnings from Israel’s past. Paul uses examples from Israel’s past to remind the Corinthian believers that what they read in Scripture is not just history, but is written down for our benefit. Paul is clear about the purpose of Scripture when he says: These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! (1 Corinthians 10:11-12). This raises the question of how you read the Bible. Many people read the Bible as dull history of a people who lived long ago. As such they see it as largely irrelevant to their everyday life. Sadly there are also some Christians who see parts of the Bible this way. If it is true that what has been recorded in the Bible is full of examples and warnings, we would be foolish to ignore it. I particularly like what Paul says in his letter to the Romans: For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope (Romans 15:4).
Paul also warns the Corinthians believers to be careful that they don’t fall into temptation when they should be standing firm (9:12). Paul knows that it is impossible to avoid temptation; it is what we do with temptation that matters. Listen to what he says: No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13). Do you live in the knowledge that when you are tempted God does two things: firstly, the strength of the temptation may try and test you, but God will not let it break you. Secondly, God will also provide a way out of the temptation so that you can endure it.
Pray: Father, may we read the Bible with open minds and hearts so as to be warned, taught and encouraged by it. When temptation comes, help us to rely on you for the strength to resist and to look for your way out of it. Amen