How many times in the last week have you seen something in the news or heard someone talking about something that is legal but you know is not pleasing to the Lord? Probably more than you can count.
We could list many things that are indeed legal in our country, or elsewhere in the world that we know are against God’s directives. The ones we think of first are things we probably all agree on. But there are other things that we might not agree on. We might have different ideas about what is “okay” behavior and what isn’t.
Those areas are what I believe Paul was addressing in First Corinthians 6:12 where he says “”I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but I will not be mastered by anything.” (NIV).
The discussion was actually about meat since there had been arguments about what was okay to eat and what was not. Paul’s point was the sometimes it doesn’t matter if it’s allowed or isn’t allowed. You are called to a higher standard. You are called to holiness and sometimes that means choosing NOT to do what everyone else is doing. Sometimes it means choosing to do something so that you don’t have a negative influence on those around you whose faith might be weak.
One example that might help make this clearer is that of a parent and child. There are topics, and in some homes even language, that could be considered less than appropriate for children to hear. Some parents who don’t even consider God’s ways will choose to change their behavior for the good of their children. There may be no law against it, but they know that it is in the best interest of their child.
As children of God, we can all do with less worldly influence. But that means we need to choose to live above the standards that we see around us. We need to be willing to look at our options and consider how our actions influence those around us. We need to be willing to say, “yes I can, but I won’t.”
Instead of following the crowd, we would do better to consider what we are told in Romans 14:19: “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”