When we learn something new about life and faith, it’s tempting to use our knowledge and freedom to tear down religious constructs and artifices—exposing truth in a way that’s not helpful or edifying. If we’re honest, pushing boundaries and living edgy and unfettered gives us a rush.
Paul warns the Corinthian Christians against this attitude: “All things are permitted, but not all things are profitable. All things are permitted, but not all things build up” (1 Corinthians 10:23). Paul sets up a contrast, juxtaposing the clauses to set apart what should really be the focus of the Corinthians. Paul stresses that instead of flaunting freedom, we should be focused on what is helpful and constructive for the community.
Seeking the good of the other person should be our first reflex. And it’s not simply limited to the Christian community. Paul states: “Therefore, whether you eat or you drink or whatever you do, do all things for the glory of God. Give no offense both to Jews and to Greeks and to the church of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31–32). This is a tall order in the internet age; when we don’t see someone face to face, it’s much easier to tear them down.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t challenge ideas when the time is appropriate. However, it does mean we should carefully consider our audience and act in a way that will best communicate the message of the gospel. Whatever the case, we should “please all people in all things, not seeking [our] own benefit, but the benefit of man, in order that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:33).
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