I don’t know about you, but I sometimes learn more from the negative examples of others. I see where someone failed and I now know how not to do it. That’s how the Apostle Paul is using the example of the children of Israel.
Remember, in this verse he’s writing to a church where the manifestation of the Holy Spirit was strong and active. So this verse is for believers.
Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.”
1 Corinthians 10:7
When I read this verse it causes me to wonder about my pre-conceived ideas. When I hear the word “idolatry”, I think of a group of people bowing and worshipping a statue of stone or metal. That’s nothing like what Paul is saying here.
The Greek word that’s translated, indulge in pagan revelry, is simply the word for play. So Paul’s description of idolatry is very different than mine. It’s about sitting down to consume and getting up to play.
Wow! If that’s not a description of our present society in America, then I don’t know what is. We have a nation of consumers and players.
To be a consumer means that you pour your resources into things that have no lasting value. You buy a new car and it loses half its value when you leave the parking lot. You by a brand new electronic device and it’s obsolete in a few weeks.
This became real to me while I was helping someone move. They had boxes of VHS movie tapes that they’d purchased over the years. Thousands of dollars in movies, but they can’t even watch them anymore because technology has moved on.
Playing is another big area for us. Online gaming is a huge industry. Big league sports are another huge money-maker. Our society will pay people millions of dollars to throw and catch balls, while those who help others have to work two or three jobs to support their families. That’s where our priorities are as a society right now.
I realize that without Christ, the “eat, drink, and be merry” lifestyle is sometimes the only way to cope with the pressures of life. My problem is when Christians get caught up in the frenzy of the world.
We seem to feel left out if we’re not doing what they’re doing. We want to experience everything that’s available. So, we consume much of our time and resources chasing after the same temporary things that the world does.
Throughout the Bible, that’s called dissipation. We are dissipating our energy and resources on things that don’t matter for eternity. All the while, the kingdom of God has relatively few who are moving it forward.
We need to rethink our way of life. How should we be living in this day and age? What should our priorities be like? I like the way Paul answers these questions in another of his letters.
Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Living a life that’s mostly consuming and/or playing is a symptom of idolatry. Don’t let the world dissipate your life. Live for Christ wholeheartedly.
Question: How do we keep ourselves separate from the idolatry of the world?
© 2019 Nick Zaccardi