Balancing Freedom and Responsibility: A Reflection on 1 Corinthians 10:23

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.

I Corinthians 10:23 NKJV


This scripture illustrates that individuals have the freedom to make choices, but these choices come with consequences. The fact that something is permissible does not mean it is helpful or edifying for a person’s physical or mental well-being.

For instance, consider a person who has the liberty to engage in various activities, such as excessive use of social media, prolonged TV watching, or a diet of unhealthy foods. While these actions are technically permitted, they may not be constructive or conducive to personal growth. In this context, the scripture reminds us to weigh the consequences of our choices and whether they contribute to our betterment or serve a higher purpose.

Here are a few everyday scenarios where the principle from 1 Corinthians 10:23 can be applied:

1.     Social media posts: You all have the right to any of the social media platforms and the freedom to say what you want. While it may be legal to express your opinions or share certain content on social media, consider if the posts are helpful or edifying. Will they contribute to a constructive dialogue or potentially cause division and offence?


2.     Lifestyle Choices: Everyday decisions like the way you dress, speak, or conduct yourself may be lawful, but they can also send messages to those around you.

Your choice of clothing and appearance may be within your legal rights, but it's also important to consider if the outfit or style is appropriate for a believer.

In your daily life, the way you speak and communicate with others can have a profound impact. While there is freedom to express yourself, First, you need to consider whether your words are edifying, promising, understanding, and respecting the feelings and perspectives of others. 

Thoughtful communication can lead to stronger relationships and also create a positive environment.

This feeling also extends to your choice of hobbies and interests. While it may be lawful to pursue certain activities, you also need to consider if they align with your values and God's standards and whether they contribute to your personal growth and well-being, as well as if they also edify or are helpful to those around you.

3.     Charitable Actions: Genuine and selfless charitable giving should indeed come from a place of sincere compassion and a desire to help those in need, rather than from a motivation to prove a point or show off.

Giving to make a positive impact on the lives of others without self-recognition or personal gain exemplifies the essence of selfless giving, which the scriptures encourage as well. The scripture says, "It's better to give than to receive,” and that "God loves a cheerful giver.” Genuine and selfless giving is what God commands.

4.     Choosing Entertainment: It may be within your rights to watch or listen to various forms of entertainment, but is it helpful or edifying?

Imagine someone who is a believer watching pornography. Although it's within his or her right to watch, such a person might have attained some degree of self-control. The question still remains: is it edifying?

You need to consider whether the content you develop aligns with God's values and whether it promotes a positive influence in your life. The Bible admonishes us to flee from the appearance of evil. That means that a thing is lawful if it is not helpful or edifying, and we should do what the Bible says.

In conclusion, in all these examples, the principles of 1 Corinthians 10:23 urge individuals to go beyond what is legally allowed and think about the impact of their choices on their well-being and the well-being of those they interact with daily.

These principles encourage a thoughtful and considerate approach to actions, emphasizing that choices should not only adhere to the law but also be beneficial, constructive, and respectful to the well-being and comfort of those around us.

© Oluwadamilola Ajayi


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