“Everything is permissible for me” — but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me” — but I will not be mastered by anything.” 1Co 6:12
“Everything is permissible” — but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible” — but not everything is constructive. 1Co 10:23
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul says twice that he is allowed to do ‘everything’, but that not everything is permissible.
The first time Paul makes the statement, it’s because he declares that he won’t be mastered by anything, other than Christ.
The second time, Paul is clear that just because everything is allowable, not everything is constructive. In other words, it takes attention away from his primary motivation — that of living and communicating the Gospel.
I think there are a number of activities that most Christians would agree would constitute sin if indulged in, and I don’t truly believe that Paul meant that literally everything is permitted.
However, there are many areas for which there’s no clear guidance on whether Christians should be involved, and if so how much.
Think of all the trappings of our modern society and you begin to get the picture.
Is TV permissible? Certainly it is. Is it beneficial or constructive? Surely that depends on what programmes are watched, and for how long.
What about video games? Newspapers and magazines? Sports? Shopping? Hobbies? The list goes on.
What we need to bear in mind is that our priority list must be straightened out if we expect to develop our relationship with God, and in turn for our ministries to be effective.
God provided overarching rules and advice for how we should live our lives. The minutiae He has left to us to grapple with in relationship with Him.
It can seem like a cop-out to say that each individual Christian must work out his or her own priorities and boundaries, but that’s the truth.
Of course, we can (nearly) all agree that Christians shouldn’t murder, commit adultery, steal, and so on.
What about putting other ‘gods’ or ‘idols’ before God. I think we’re all prone to do that from time to time, to some measure.
God may be calling you to give up certain parts of your lifestyle, either for a season or permanently, because they are hindering your relationship with Him or are not particularly beneficial to you.
It can be hard to lay down things we’ve got used to having around, but in the long run a healthy and growing relationship with God is worth so much more than anything the world has to offer.
God also honours those who sacrifice things — time, money and energy — for Him. A life lived in closer harmony with God is so much better than one cluttered with stuff that drowns Him out.
Take time on a regular basis to examine and realign your priorities. It really will make a difference.