Friday, 17 October 2014
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. 1 Corinthians 10:23
Paul reveals his thoughts on the delicate matter of eating meat sacrificed to idols in a verse which carries the same tone as he previously made in chapter 6. There he said –
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” 1 Corinthians 6:12
In agreement with the thought that “all things are lawful for me,” Paul will issue words to confirm that idea in verses 25-27. The Christian has the liberty to act in ways that demonstrate Christ’s fulfillment of the law. We have been freed from restrictions once imposed upon us by that law. However, in agreement with the thought that “not all things are helpful,” Paul will issue words to confirm that idea in verses 28 & 29.
There is the truth that our liberties are intended to grant us individual freedoms, and there is the truth that our individual freedoms should not be exercised when they negatively effect the sensibilities of others. Where “all things are lawful” there is the truth that “not all things edify.” And if something doesn’t edify, then it may actually be destructive. We have to consider the effect of our actions towards others if we are to demonstrate love towards them.
In a wise choice of words, McLaren gives us these thoughts concerning Paul’s doctrine –
“He did not keep his ‘theology’ and his ethics in separate water-tight compartments, having no communication with each other. The greatest truths were used to regulate the smallest duties. Like the star that guided the Magi, they burned high in the heavens, but yet directed to the house in Bethlehem.”
Life application: Let us use our freedoms in Christ wisely and for edification. When there is no conflict between what we may do and how it will negatively affect others, then go forward with a clear conscience. But if such a conflict arises, be wise, discerning, and considerate towards those whom we may offend. However, if our actions which uphold a biblical mandate are found to be offensive, that is another issue. We are never to compromise Christian doctrine for the sake of “tolerance.”
Heavenly Father, today I ask for wisdom in how I conduct myself in regards to my Christian freedoms. Help me never to offend by what is allowed but not necessary. But at the same time, help me never to compromise what is required at the expense of offense. Above all, my heart desires to show others Your grace while also showing them my obedience to You. I know this can’t be done without knowing Your word, so please continue to reveal it to me for right doctrine and right practice. Thanking You in advance for hearing my request, I praise You. Amen.