“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For “the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof.” If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else's conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? – 1 Corinthians 10:23-30
I have been discussing the idea of Christian freedom for almost two weeks now. The idea of Christian Freedom is foundational to our faith. Yet, so many times it’s abused. For many Christians, the idea of Christian Freedom either means a license to live a worldly lifestyle or a license to judge others. Real Christian Freedom is neither.
In pretty much every debate on whether or not to watch a movie or book, or any discussion on Christian Freedom, 1 Corinthians 10:23-30 always comes up. And I’ve seen it used on both sides of the argument.
All things are lawful, that’s true. As Christians in the land of the free, we are free to live as we wish. However, that freedom also comes with a consequence. I have the freedom of speech, and I may say what I wish. But if I use my freedom of speech to slander someone or verbally abuse them, I will face certain consequences for my actions, either here or in the next life.
Not all things build up, or in some versions, not all things are profitable. Keeping that in mind, I am reminded of two sections of Scripture. The first is 1 Corinthians 3:11-13. Whether we know it or not, everything we do is building something, even the smallest things. The things we have done will be tested by fire, whether or not we were building using materials of gold, silver, precious jewels, wood, hay, or straw. Why build with materials that burn up under fire? Why not build up with materials that will withstand? Let your actions make a difference in others’ lives.
The second Scripture that I am reminded of is the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25. We should desire to have our work and actions prosper. The good servants invested their talents into worthwhile endeavors, while the wicked servant hid his talent. Not all of our actions are profitable, but our desire should be to use our abilities to profit the Kingdom of Heaven.
We must not use our freedom to benefit ourselves. Rather, we should always look to the good of others. We are free to do what we like; however, we must not be purposefully offending others.
On the flip-side, don’t automatically judge others on how other people are using their freedom. Just because we are weak in an area, does not necessarily mean that someone else doing something you know to be sin is sin (for example, someone who has struggled with alcohol shouldn’t automatically judge someone for drinking one 8oz serving of wine with a fancy meal on a rare occasion).
But there’s a greater standard for how we should use our Christian Freedom. The standard is located in the following verses.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. – 1 Corinthians 10:31-33
The ultimate standard for whether or not we should watch a certain movie, listen to a certain song, etc… is this: can we do it for the glory of God? If we cannot honestly answer the question, then it probably isn’t worth doing.