Friday, July 18, 2014

THE PLIMSOLL LINE (1 Corinthians Chapter 10)

1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

Trials are an inevitable part of life and are of various kinds (i.e. common troubles, Job 5:7; relationship problems, Philippians 4:1-4; health issues, Philippians 2:27; temptations to sin, 1 Corinthians 10:13; sin failures, Luke 22:62; concern for loved ones, 2 Corinthians 11:28; loss of possessions, Hebrews 10:34; persecution, 1 Peter 4:14; and death, 1 Thessalonians 4:13; etc.

The Greek word translated “temptation” means to test or prove.  It has no negative connotation in itself.  Whether it constitutes a “trial with a beneficial purpose and effect” or a “trial definitely designed to lead to wrong doing” depends on our response (Vine’s Expository Dictionary).  A trial/temptation resisted serves as a test in which one’s faithfulness is proved (Cf. 1 Peter 1:7).  A temptation succumbed to becomes to us a source of spiritual defeat and discouragement (Cf. James 1:14-15).

No temptation comes to any of us beyond that which is common to man.  There is no trouble or trial experienced in which a person can say, “this is something altogether new, and no one has ever had to deal with something like this before.”  Indeed, no temptation exists that Jesus Himself has not already triumphed over (Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin”).  We might feel sometimes as if “no one knows the troubles I’ve seen,” but Jesus does know—He faced them all.

It is helpful to remember that God is not oblivious to our circumstances.  He is omnisciently aware of all of our comings and goings (Cf. Psalm 139:1-6).  He is faithful--we can always count on Him—to not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability.  He mercifully sets a limit to our troubles.  Job’s troubles were limited according to God’s decree (Cf. Job 1:12; 2:6).

The Plimsoll Line--named after Samuel Plimsoll who argued in the 1860s of the need for such a marker-- is the name of a special marking, also known as the International Load Line, that indicates the draft of the ship and the legal limit to which a ship may be loaded in order to safely maintain buoyancy.  The Plimsoll line of any specific ship is established by the ship’s designer.  Ships are not to be loaded beyond that point.  Our designer, God, sets a limit (a Plimsoll Line) to our burdens.  Sometimes it might seem that we’ve been given too much to bear, but it is in such instances where we experience previously unexplored dimensions of God’s strengthening and sustaining grace (Cf. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10).  God is well-pleased and able to supply to us “mercy and…grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16; Cf. James 1:5; 1 Peter 5:7).

Not only does God providentially work to limit our burdens, He also provides for “the way of escape” (1 Corinthians 10:13).  God will not set us “between a rock and a hard place” such that we have no choice but to sin (Cf. James 1:13).  That might have appeared to some to be the case when Meriam Ibrahim was recently brought before a judge in Sudan.  The eight-month pregnant Sudanese mother was threatened with capital punishment unless she renounced Christ.  She faced a seemingly inescapable predicament.  But she trusted and obeyed God.  God ultimately worked to deliver her from punishment and jail.

Andrew Murray offered this wise counsel on how to deal with difficult situations: 1) Realize that God brought me here.  It is by His will I am in this place; in that fact I will rest; 2) Realize that He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace to behave as His child; 3) Realize that He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons that He intends me to learn, and working in me that grace He means to bestow; and 4) In His good time He can bring me out again -- how and when -- He knows.  So, I am here...By God's appointment, in His keeping, under His training, for His time.”

God is not oblivious to the temptations that you face.  He knows.  He cares.  He can use them in your life to accomplish HIs divine purpose for you.  He can even work to bring a blessing out of them.  Our part is to trust and obey.

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