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. 1 Corinthians 10:23-24
Someone unplugged the office refrigerator at the AT&T building in San Jose, California.
The lunch food employees brought in warmed up, then spoiled, then turned moldy.
Finally, one employee took it on herself to clean up the disgusting mess. She moved the spoiled food out into a conference room and began using a mixture of cleaning chemicals to scrub out the fridge.
And the result of her enthusiastic cleaning? The smell of the concoction caused 28 people to seek treatment for nausea and seven had to be sent to the hospital.
The lady who volunteered to clean the fridge was fine. Because of allergies, she can't smell and is free from the results of her actions.
This makes the point that Paul was trying to make to the church at Corinth; because of Jesus' work we have been given Christian liberty. Then, having made his point, Paul quickly added, "all things are lawful, but not all things are helpful" or edifying to others.
He was right. All too often Christians act as if they are living for themselves and themselves alone. The damage that can do to others who judge the Savior by the conduct of the saved is frightening.
That's why the Lord, speaking through St. Paul, offers this encouragement: "Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor."
It is a good reminder. We have been blessed with a Savior who put us, not Himself, first. So that we might be saved, He was rejected, spurned, misunderstood, persecuted, and crucified. Because He offered Himself as our ransom, we have been given forgiveness and eternal life.
Now, in response to His unselfish life, we have been given the opportunity, yes, opportunity, to live our lives in thanksgiving to Him. And what will that mean? It means simply this: we sometimes voluntarily set aside our Christian liberty for the spiritual edification of others.
It is, after all, the right thing to do.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, You gave up the joys of heaven and fulfilled the Law so we might be saved. Now may we, having seen Your sacrifice, live our lives in such a way that others may see Your love and grace. In Your Name, I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries