Avoid idolatry. That’s Paul’s message. He lays his message on the podium before everything else. Avoid idolatry. Before we hear his message about idolatry’s temptation, however, we have to check our thinking caps.
Are we tuned in as sensible folks? Do we have the foundations of sensible people?
Image by Couleur
By John Pearring
“My beloved one, avoid idolatry. I am speaking as to sensible people ….”
(1 Corinthians 10:14)
That, folks, is an important caveat. When presenting a biblical truth, a Church doctrine, or a commandment from God, be sure to properly assess your audience. Are they sensible people? Don’t waste your breath on people who are swayed by lies. They are confused and likely not capable of thinking clearly. Someone who is not sensible has hitched their wagon to nonsense.
This fundamental principle, however, is not about the person we’re talking to. It is us. Are we sensible? It’s normal to assume our thinking is based upon the truth, but we're often mistaken. Right away, we should ask. Am I sensible? Are we all sensible (rational and reasonable) people? Do we have the sensibility to listen to what God is telling us?
Avoid idolatry. That’s Paul’s message. He lays his message on the podium before everything else. Avoid idolatry. Before we hear his message about idolatry’s temptation, we have to check our thinking caps. Are we tuned in as sensible folks? Do we have the foundations of sensible people?
TThe Psalm for this Saturday (Psalm 116:12-13, 17-18) gives us a clue about the difference between someone sensible or not. “How shall I make a return to the Lord, for all the good he has done to me?”
That question is wrapped up in awareness. A sensible person recognizes God's goodness. “For all the good he has done to me.” Is that what we do? Not me. I usually operate on a worry wart setting. My worry lists are endless. There’s nothing in our lives that we don’t worry about. This, though, is the most insensible thing we can do.
We assume that life is about us being a good person, and that’s the beginning of all worry. Am I a good person? With that question, I shift away from God is good to me being good.
But how do I think differently? “How shall I make a return to the Lord?” the Psalmist asks. We turn to God by recognizing all the good God has done “to” me. Not just for me, but “to” me. It’s something we have to practice. If right away I can’t put my finger on the good that God is doing to me, I’m already someplace else. Worrying about the good I’m doing.
It’s natural to do that.
A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good,
but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil;
for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.
That verse comes from the gospel today, as reported by Luke. For worriers, the verse isn't helpful because we're not connected to God when we’re focused on ourselves. We hear in that verse that there’s a good possibility we’re not good. I often imagine that my heart is on things other than God because it is. I say imagine because that’s what we do. We assess ourselves and see how we measure up.
Not good, scripture tells us. Focus upon God’s goodness. What good has God done to me?
"How shall I make a return to the Lord, for all the good he has done to me?”
For all the good he has done to me. What’s God doing right now? What wondrous thing is he doing in my life? That’s the sensible man, the sensible woman. That’s how I return to God and set aside my worries and nonsense. This turning back to God, though, has a consequence.
Again, the Psalmist lays out the step of returning back to God.
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
That cup of salvation is the physical act of our return to God. Our hands are outstretched, and we freely take what God gives us.
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
Do you see it? I didn’t at first. “I will offer sacrifice of thanksgiving.” We accept the cup of salvation, the gift God has given us, and we thank him for it. Built into God’s gift will shift our lives from what we worry about to what God is giving us.
Every moment with God is like a birthday party. We accept the gifts friends and family give us, and we hold back our shock, dismay, and incredulous reactions at the weird things under the wrapping paper. We put a grin on our faces and say, "Wow." We say, "Thank you."
God hands us the cup of salvation just like that. It comes with participation and collaboration with God because we receive the body and blood of Christ, the savior himself. We're not entirely sure what this gift will do for us or if God's gifts are appropriate, but we say, "Thank you."
It’s a strange way to think for those of us who are worriers. We have lists of things to do that must get done every day. They’re essential lists. They must be done. All through the day, God is being good to us. He offers us only good, even though it may challenge us, even put us in danger. Our lists don't need to ignore God's presence. He's there through everything we have to do.
I can’t tell you how this works because it’s different for each of us. My challenges are not yours. You know what God is doing, or you do not. I know how hard this is. I’m often in another place than with God. What good he’s doing, though, is genuinely the proper focus, bringing me back to him.