In chapter nine of 1 Corinthians, Paul illustrates the concept of giving up your rights, for the good of others. He uses his own life as an example saying, “Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ” (1 Corinthians 9:19). Paul was truly focused on others!
In chapter 10, Paul furthers his thoughts about how you live by using the Israelites as a prime example. He says this about the Israelites:
“All of them ate the same spiritual food, and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ. Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness” (1 Corinthians 10:3-5 NLT).
What does Paul mean here? We believe that Paul is using the Israelites as an example to prove to us that no matter how spiritual you think you are, it has nothing to do with religious acts! The people of Israel “drank the same spiritual water” and “ate the same spiritual food”, but MOST of them displeased God. This shows us that being a genuine believer is a rare thing. Most people put on an act that makes others think they have it all together. However, that “act,” displeases God. Paul is telling us that true spirituality resides on the inside. Genuine belief is a relationship between you and God. How spiritual you are has nothing to do with the acts you commit so others can see. It has everything to do with the decisions you make to honor God and God alone.
Now that we know what it means, this passage is challenging for us to read. It is very difficult for us to make decisions solely based upon what God thinks, instead of what others think. As prideful humans, we do good things to impress others. Shouldn’t we try everything possible to impress our God?