These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.
1 Corinthians 10:11
A Lesson in Gratitude
Think of a time when your mom or dad taught you something important. Maybe it was how to tie your shoelaces or how to make your bed. Maybe there were times when it wasn’t a skill that you learned from them, but rather attitudes or values. And then, of course, because they were human, there were times when their mistakes taught you that some of their words or actions were best not to imitate.
Sometimes we learn what to do from those who’ve gone before us. Sometimes we learn what not to do. In our Bible reading for today we hear the apostle Paul tell the church at Corinth to look carefully at the generation of Israelites made famous in the book of Exodus. “Learn from them,” Paul says. “Learn what not to do.”
Those Israelites had every advantage, spiritually speaking. They had seen God’s hand deliver his people from Egypt. They had passed between the parted waters of the Red Sea. They had daily collected the manna that had fallen miraculously from heaven. They’d been on the receiving end of grace upon grace, miracle upon miracle. Humble gratitude would have been the appropriate response.
But presumption, rather than humble gratitude, was the dominant attitude among the Israelites. And if knowing that doesn’t lead us to check ourselves for presumption, the lesson to be learned here would be totally lost on us.
How easy for us to feel slighted because someone else has received something we haven’t. And to complain loudly—even if it’s just in our heads—about God’s providence, even as we live each day with food on the table, a bed to sleep in, a closet full of clothes—and a heavenly home waiting for us. That’s presumption when humble gratitude is called for. So we approach the cross, trusting Jesus’ promise that he will cover these sins, too, with his perfect life and innocent blood! And knowing that He has, we rededicate ourselves to lives of humble gratitude before the One who gives us every good thing.
Holy Spirit, drive presumption from my heart, and keep me ever mindful, ever thankful for the undeserved blessings that come from your hand. Amen.