All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable.
–1 Corinthians 10:23
How do we go about making decisions in the gray areas of the Christian life? In 1 Corinthians 10:23-24, Paul wrote, “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.” In these verses, Paul gave us three questions to ask about our behavior in those gray areas.
First of all, ask yourself, “Is this activity lawful?” That is, does Scripture give you the freedom to do this? Obviously, not everything is lawful. Committing adultery is not lawful. Unbiblical divorce is not lawful. When Paul said, “All things are lawful,” he was talking about those things Scripture does not address. He did not mean we have the freedom to do anything we want to do.
Second, ask yourself, “Is it profitable?” In other words, does it help move you toward your God-given goal and passion in life? For example, I could spend three hours a day in my office playing video games, but that would not help me to be an effective pastor.
Finally, “Is this behavior helpful?” Does your behavior make a person want to follow God more closely, or does it motivate them to fall away from God?
When I was a high school senior, one of the Bible teachers in the youth area pulled me aside after the evening service and said, “Robert, our daughter went to a movie last night, and she was just shocked by the horrible language in that movie.” I smiled, thinking to myself, “Why is she telling me this? Maybe it is because I am so spiritual, she just thought I would want to know.” So I took the bait and asked, “Why did your daughter go to the movie if it was so awful?”
With a twinkle in her eye, she said, “Well, a couple of nights before that, she was driving by the theater, and she saw you standing in line with your date to go see that movie. And she thought to herself, ‘If Robert Jeffress thinks this movie is okay, then it must be okay for me too.’”
I looked for the nearest pew to crawl under as quickly as I could. What a wake-up call! The fact is, what we do affects other people–people we do not even know are watching. That is why the Bible says a proper understanding of grace will always lead us to ask not only “How does this behavior affect me?” but “How does it affect us?”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Good-Grace Decision-Making” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org