A Dose Of Humility From The Apostle Paul
In the verses preceding our verse for today, Paul reminds his readers of that time in the past, as recorded in the scriptures, when the their ancestors were wandering in the desert after they had been freed from slavery in Egypt. This history is just as potent for our contemplation today as it was for the Corinthians in Paul’s time.
Paul is doing this for a very powerful and important reason. He is cautioning us against spiritual pride by getting us to remember that though the Israelites had been freed from slavery, and had been “baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, though they ate the same spiritual food, and drank the same spiritual drink” they fell out of God’s grace and were punished accordingly. (verses 2-5) Though they had been given all of these gifts by the generous grace of God, they became lax, they submitted to temptations of immediate gratification, they grumbled against Moses and the law calling it too difficult, and they got caught in worshipping idols. They forgot their Benefactor.
The same message is true for us today. We must not become spiritually proud, or complacent, just because we have been baptized. We are not free from falling into the same errors as our spiritual ancestors did. Though we are forgiven, and though sin and death have been conquered by Christ, we are still sinners. We must develop, then, the habit of humility in all things. For the Temptor knows our weaknesses too. He knows how to appeal to our egos with clever subtleness. We, too, can get lazy. We, too, can succumb to the appeals of immorality. We are not free from the occasional whining, or grumbling against the law when it challenges us. As Paul says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to mankind.” Paul’s words are cautionary for us, just as they were for the Corinthians. If we develop the habits of humility, we will remember that God is God, and we are not. We are his children.
But Paul also reassures us here. He writes, “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond you ability…” This is true of course when we humbly try to remain true to him. He knows our hearts. He knows our struggles and he has compassion on us. He is our defender against the Evil One. He will deliver us from evil when we turn to him for his help. We can trust that God, “will also provide [us] with the way of escape, that [we] may be able to endure it.” In other words, he will give us all the graces we need to endure the trials that come our way, as well as those graces we will need in order to commit ourselves to the hard work of becoming holy in his name. God is good, indeed.
Lord, when the trials of temptation come against us, help us to remember that you are our savior, our strength in our times of need. Help us to grow in our love for you. Make of us spiritual warriors worthy of being called your disciples. Give us the grace of humility in all things. We pray this in your name, Jesus. Amen!
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