So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 1 Corinthians 10:12
As pride goes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18), so the apostle Paul warns the Corinthians against overconfidence. His admonition comes right after the exultation of Samuel, who rejoices in what he can do in the strength of the Lord. Samuel is full of confidence – but it is confidence in the Lord’s strength, not his own. Which makes it clear that Paul’s warning is not against having confidence, but instead reminding us where to put our confidence. All that we have comes from God – let us not forget that all we have, our confidence, our security, our strength, comes from God through His Son, Jesus Christ.
The Old Testament lesson is from the book of 2 Samuel, chapter 22, verses 26-34:
To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
to the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
You save the humble,
but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.
You, Lord, are my lamp;
the Lord turns my darkness into light.
With your help I can advance against a troop;
with my God I can scale a wall.
The Lord’s word is flawless;
he shields all who take refuge in him.
For who is God besides the Lord?
And who is the Rock except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength
and keeps my way secure.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he causes me to stand on the heights.
The Epistle lesson is from 1 Corinthians, chapter 10, verses 6-13:
Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.
These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
The Gospel for the ninth Sunday after Trinity is from Luke, chapter 16, verses 1-9:
Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’
“The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’
“So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
“‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied.
“The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’
“Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’
“‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied.
“He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’
“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”
Parable of the Unjust Steward, by Jan Luyken, from the Bowyer Bible [Copyleft Free Art License]