As we were discussing 1 Corinthians 10:1-22 in our writing meeting, someone pointed out that this section feels like a footnote or an asterisk to Chapter 9. In this chapter, Paul makes some eyebrow-raising points about reaching people for the Gospel, but it seems in Chapter 10 he wants to conclude his point by making something very clear: don’t get too confident in your freedom. Don’t grow complacent. Don’t let your guard down. We can slip into sin so quickly and so easily; none of us are exempt. Even God’s chosen people fell, again and again, due to overconfidence or complacency.

In Monday’s devotional, Lynette Fuson made some excellent observations about the Old Testament stories Paul references as warnings against this kind of fall that remind us to remain alert. But I kept thinking about another ancient story frequently cited as a warning against self-confidence, pride, and complacency that illustrates a similar theme.

Icarus was trapped with his father, Daedalus, in King Minos’ prison in Crete. Daedalus was an incredible craftsman and inventor who managed to fashion wings out of feathers and wax for himself and Icarus. He planned to escape with these wings, but for their plan to succeed, Daedalus gave Icarus a warning: “Don’t fly too close to the sun.” Icarus felt so powerful and invincible wearing his wings that he didn’t heed his father’s warning and kept flying, up, up, and up… You may already know what happens or you may have already guessed Icarus’ fate. Yep, he went too close to the sun, and the wax holding his wings together melted. Because his wings fell apart, Icarus fell to the ocean below and drowned.

The Greek word often cited when labeling the cause of Icarus’ fall is hubris. It has come to mean excessive pride or self-confidence, but one of the older uses of it meant pushing the boundaries or the limits of what humans can do (towards the gods or the ordered cosmos).

I kept thinking of this myth when I read verse 12: “Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” We have so many stories about “falling” because as humans, we’re prone to become easily complacent and overconfident about what we can do; we forget how weak we really are. This is also the warning Paul is reminding believers about in Chapter 10. The fact that we are not bound may let us slip into the illusion that we are untouchable or incorruptible with Christ, and that is why Paul is being so careful to add this footnote to Chapter 9: “Any of us could be an “Icarus,” so let’s not allow our freedom to draw us into lifestyles, habits and practices that could lead into destruction.”

Ashley Carr
High School Teacher

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