1 Corinthians 10:10

“Neither murmur ye,
as some of them also murmured,
and were destroyed of the destroyer.”

~ 1 Corinthians 10:10

A Continual Dripping

A Continual Dripping

Murmuring. I don’t know why this stuck out to me. It really grabbed my attention. Murmuring. Let’s see. O yes, that’s the sin almost nobody remembers is a sin. It is also a universal practice; some would say art form. What is murmuring? It is complaining, grumbling, muttering, etc. Murmuring is experiencing or expressing dissatisfaction with some reality. For instance, the laborers complained about the wages the householder paid in the parable of the householder (Matthew 20:1-15).

Our world is filled with complaining. People complaining everywhere—in line at the store, waiting rooms, church fellowship, internet forums, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Start the day sometime with the determined purpose that you are going to be alert all day to people complaining. You will probably be surprised at how much you hear—I’ve had the worst day, the line is too long, the pump is too slow, the wind is too cold, this burger has pickles on it, and on and on it goes.

The Bible commands us not to complain. Our text is one of those instances. If the Bible forbids us from doing something, the doing of it is sin. Complaining is sin. It is one of the sins that brought punishment on the Israelites in the wilderness: “some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.”

Paul wrote that the Israelites “were our examples” (1 Corinthians 10:6) that we should learn from and not be like them. Complaining was one of the people’s characteristics along with lust, rebellion, idolatry, fornication, stubbornness, and other things that don’t exactly look good on a resume. So let’s take a few moments and think about complaining.

When we complain, we are expressing dissatisfaction with something as it is. The implication is that we would prefer that thing to be different. We might feel slighted, cheated, wronged, impatient, angry, manipulated, disliked, or something else but at the root of it complaining is dissatisfaction.

If we are dissatisfied with some reality and would prefer it to be something else, we are actually complaining against God. We are calling God’s wisdom into question when we complain about the rain that ruined our picnic. We are calling God’s justice into question when we complain about that coworker who has wronged us many times and still seems to get promoted. Ultimately, our complaint is against God.

Complaining is also contagious. It spreads like an infection. This seems obvious from the example of Israel, but we have also experienced it. I was once sitting in a waiting room with several other people. Everybody was sitting quietly and waiting. Then a disgruntled woman comes in and begins airing her complaints. Several others were quick to join in and add their complaints of the day to the floor. When we complain, we are encouraging others to do the same.

Complaining also contains an element of human pride. We might be seeking to exalt ourselves by complaining against others. We might be complaining because we feel that we should never be treated or be subjected to something as we are. In complaining we are boasting of ourselves, our worth, and what we deserve in our own mind.

Complaining is also a lie. Generally when we are complaining, we are dissatisfied with people and circumstances outside of ourselves. We think everyone and everything else is the problem, the root of our distress. The truth is: Complaining is the defilement of our own heart coming out of our mouth and defiling us before God and the world.

Complaining is sin. It is a sin for which people are condemned and it is a sin for which Christ died. We would do well to think about our complaining on the cross. Hanging between heaven and earth, Jesus Christ bore all the complaining of all His people. Speak of a contradiction of sinners against Him. The One who when “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

I pray that we take God’s Word to heart: “Neither murmur ye.”

1 Corinthians 15:10

But by the grace of God I am what I am:
and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain;
but I laboured more abundantly than they all:
yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

~ 1 Corinthians 15:10

A party spirit had developed in the church at Corinth that grieved Paul. “Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:12). The church was divided into different factions that touted their favorite preacher. They cried up the passion of Paul, the eloquence of Apollos, or the boldness of Peter. They pitted Paul against Apollos and Peter against Paul. Paul wrote to rebuke them for their carnality. “For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?” (1 Corinthians 3:4). None of these preachers strove for preeminence over the other, so why should the church argue over the greatest?

In our text, Paul speaks about his own case. “But by the grace of God I am what I am.” Paul readily owned that Apollos was a great preacher. Luke said of Apollos, “And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John” (Acts 18:24-25). Apollos was a very able speaker. He had a great command of the scriptures. He was diligent and passionate in preaching. After Aquila and Priscilla helped to complete his knowledge, “he mightily convinced the Jews.” I believe that Paul rejoiced in Apollos and the fact that he used his great gifts in the service of the Lord.

However, Paul states, “But by the grace of God I am what I am.” Apollos was many things but Paul says, “I am not him.” Paul said, “My preaching was not with enticing words.” (1 Corinthians 2:4). He admits that his own speech was rough and plain. He was not the polished preacher that Apollos was, but his preaching was “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:4). It would be a mockery to try to imitate Apollos. Paul says, “I am what I am.”

No doubt, Paul would commend the ministry of Peter. Peter had companied with the Lord during His earthly ministry. He was drawn into an inner circle of fellowship with Jesus along with James and John. Peter could be fiery and wax bold in preaching. He possessed a great ability in the ministry. Paul would rejoice in these things and would not seek to copy Peter. Paul says, “I am what I am.”

Paul condemned the over-comparison that led to division. Each minister has his own work. “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6). Often one man enters into the labors of another “reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed” (Matthew 25:24). It is foolish to heap praise on the laborers and set them up as some great one. “So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:7). Paul’s goal was to exalt Christ not Paul. All true preachers want Christ to be exalted and lament if they themselves are lifted up. They say with the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

As every one has his own work, every one has his own gifts to suit his work. “If any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11). Paul could not use the eloquence of Apollos or the boldness of Peter. He recognized “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” (1 Corinthians 12:11). Every one has their own gifts of the Lord. Paul said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am.”

In the last place, we see that Paul did not seek credit for all his labors. Paul states the facts saying, “I laboured more abundantly than they all.” He is not bragging, just stating the truth. However, Paul does not glory in himself. He says, “Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” Paul rejoices in the grace of God.

But for the grace of God, where would you be today? You and I might be the worst lot of sinners the world has ever known, but for the grace of God. Instead of seeking to do His will and glorify Christ with our lives, we could be serving the flesh and wasting our substance with riotous living. Praise God! Who saved me and washed me from my sins in Jesus’ blood! What do you know of the grace of God at this hour? Flee from the wrath to come and seek to lay hold of Christ through faith!