I have a brother who is six years younger than I am. As a youngster, when I was caught doing something wrong, my parents would scold me saying: “You’re the big brother, you’re supposed to be setting a good example for your younger brother. Shame on you.” When I think of my failure as an example or others who likewise failed in the Scriptures, I’ve often said, “Everyone is good for something, even if it’s only to be used as a bad example.”
In I Corinthians Chapter 10, the Apostle Paul is dealing with the issue of bad examples. He tells the believers of his day that in Israel’s history, many lusted after evil things. Many were idolaters, fornicators, disobedient to the Lord, and constant murmurers (I Corinthians 10:1-10). Given the pattern of sinful carnality that existed in the Corinthian Christian community, the Apostle Paul wanted to give them the solution to these problems. Paul begins by telling them: “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (10:12). When believers fool themself into thinking they are just too spiritual to sin like others, they become easy targets for Satan. The truth is, any believer can commit any sin given the right opportunity and the wrong spiritual condition. Beware. Next, Paul informs them: “there hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but God…will…make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (10:13). We don’t really have to sin. We can choose to draw on the power of Christ and find a way, provided by the Lord, to get far away from the sin that tempts us. In verse 14, Paul urges, “…my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.” As pure Joseph fled from the presence of Potiphar’s wife, even when she literally tried to pull him to her bed of sin, we are to vigorously and immediately flee from the presence of sin. Paul also didn’t want the Corinthians to confuse their liberty with a license to sin. He told them: “…all things are lawful…but all things edify not” (10:23). Our standard must become doing only what will build up other believers and avoiding anything that would lessen the spiritual walk of others. Finally, live by the rule of only allowing self what will give “glory to God” (10:31).
May we all ask ourselves today: “What kind of spiritual example am I leaving for others?” Let’s choose to be a good example, not a bad example.
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