Posted by: pmarkrobb | March 19, 2017

the answer can always be found…

It never ceases to amaze me how reminders in Scripture, which were given to the ancient’s, speak so specifically and rightfully to us today.  It is undeniable proof that “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

I’m wondering if you felt that way last Friday in reading the words of 1 Corinthians chapter ten, where Paul was charging the believers in Corinth to not forget their ancestors in the wilderness long ago (verse 1).  The same cloud led them all.  They all ate the same manna.  Yet God was not pleased with most of them (verse 5).

Paul characterized the experience of their ancestors as a warning to the believers in his time. We should equally hear them as a warning to us in ours — Craving evil things and worshipping idols, feasting and drinking, pagan revelry, sexual immorality, testing God, grumbling … nothing new under the sun.

I am negotiating a season of my life where nearly all my correspondences begin with, “I’m sorry for the delay in responding.”  This comes right on the heels of a brief period where there was a place for everything and everything was in its place.  The obedience that resulted in order and peace snuck away at some point, absent my notice.  Paul’s reminder to the believers in Corinth seemed particularly timely for this believer, and I’m guessing the Spirit’s prompting to pen this confession means there’s value in it for one or more of you.

Idols rarely present themselves in the wolves clothing of something like sexual sin (and even that can appear soft and white and wooly sometimes).  And how long does it take the essentials of our relationship with God (reading the Bible, talking to Him in prayer, serving and loving others) to get crowded out of our busy lives?

In response to the crowding, it’s common to hear the suggestion of things like “balance” and “margin.”  While those things sound good (and might, on some level, be good), I would confidently suggest that the answer can be found in becoming more like Jesus.  And the last time I read the stories of His life here walking among us, I wouldn’t have used either “balance” or “margin” to describe it.  I do remember reading that He stole away to pray (repeatedly).  I do remember reading that His food was doing the will of his Father (John 4:34).  And I do remember reading that Mary chose better (Luke 10:42).

My experience with the “truths” of balance and margin are that they are most typically rooted in self — the thing we are supposed to be dying to.   They’re a product of human wisdom and I can find no clear evidence of them in Scripture or Jesus’ earthly life.  The definition and pursuit of “balance” is very much, I think, like that of being “good.”  They are both things which God does not define.  So then, who defines them, and by what basis of truth do they define them?  And what is “margin’s” purpose?  Is it for things like stealing away to pray and Sabbath rest, or is it, for us, more like a comfortable spot on the couch for March Madness?

My purpose is not to single out “balance” and “margin” and attack them as evil.  It is simply to suggest that when we find ourselves convicted about having put the things of this world ahead of God, or discovering the essentials of our relationship with Him have been crowded out by the busyness of life, the answer can always be found in becoming more like Jesus.  The God-breathed books, chapters and verses of the Word are useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right (2 Timothy 3:16).

I pray there has been value for you in the mention of Paul’s reminder about our ancestors in the wilderness.  I pray for God’s will to be done in and through your life and mine.  I pray we will be busy … busy doing our Father’s will.  I pray we will choose like Mary.  I pray that God opens our eyes to the idols which have already taken residence in our hearts and lives, and the wolves (who don’t look like wolves) who’ll forever (in this life) be knocking on our door.


  1. Thanks for sharing Paul’s reminder and your (our) own experience with obedience. 🙂

    The ancestral attention reminded me also of the mentions of those who, “were all commended for their faith”, in Hebrews 1, “yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” The men. women and prophets of faith who still speak to us today. 🙂 “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.” (1 Peter 1:10-11)

    “Something better for us”…….”the grace that was to come to you”…….”the glories that would follow.”

    The ancients are described as a “great cloud of witnesses” surrounding us. Here, we are challenged to, “throw off the sin that so easily entangles……run with perseverance”. How?!? “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…….” (Hebrews 12:1-2) Peter writes, “I have written to your briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.” (1 Peter 5:12)

    It is only by grace, through faith in Christ – His person, power and provision – that I can, “throw off sin”….”run with perseverance”…..”fix my eyes”……”stand fast in it.”

    Those men, women and prophets of faith longed to know how we would LIVE with the very Spirit of God indwelling us. Our bodies, His temple! What would obedience look like when the Spirit of God indwells man!?! This is the, something better for us! The grace that was to come! The glories that would follow! Not so much that we might learn from their mistakes, but rather see what they could not see and know what they could not know – “the true grace of God, and stand fast in it.” Only by grace can I ___________ .

    Mark, thanks for sharing your heart and mind. As is so often the case, God the Father, Son and Spirit engage my heart and thoughts through it. 🙂 Enjoyable morning of observation, consideration and thanksgiving. 🙂

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