“‘Everything is permissible for me,’ but not everything is helpful.
‘Everything is permissible for me,’ but I will not be brought under the control of anything.”
Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should
I had every right to post a fiery little rant on my Facebook wall the other day. And I just about did it. My thumbs were poised on the touchpad keys of my iPhone, but then I felt that nudge of conviction under my ribs — in that place I call my “knower.”
My knower spoke words of caution: “You don’t really need to add your voice to this conversation, do you Jennifer?” (Imagine my knower’s head cocked to the side, with arms crossed over chest.)
I snapped back to that bossy knower: “Yes, but I have just as much right as the next guy to say what I think!”
My knower countered: “True enough, but just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”
“Fine,” I retorted, and set down my iPhone.
A few moments later—after a self-imposed timeout—I sighed a relieved kind of sigh. I knew my knower was right. As it turns out, Scripture has been saying the same thing all along:
“‘Everything is permissible for me,’ but not everything is helpful,” Paul wrote to the Corinthians.
Let’s pause right there and take in the truth of those words, deep down into our knowers.
What I’m hearing in those verses is this: We have the right to do a lot of things that aren’t expressly forbidden by God. They truly are permissible. But before we do any of those things, we’ve got to consult with our knowers and ask: “It’s permissible, but is it helpful?”
That day, when I wanted to post an impassioned response on Facebook, the words I intended to write weren’t sinful, illegal or forbidden by the Lord. But were they helpful? Probably not.
So I stepped away from my iPhone before I got all trigger happy.
That’s not prescriptive for everybody — or for every situation. On another day, I might have felt that my opinion mattered quite a bit. Truth is, there really are days when things must be said. There really are days when we must stand up for what we believe, even if it ruffles someone else’s feathers.
But we’d all do well to at least pause long enough to ask ourselves this question: “It’s permissible, but is it helpful?”
That’s a question we can apply in a lot of situations: whether we’re about to post on Facebook, stay up past midnight, have a second piece of pie, skip our workouts tomorrow, and so on.
All of the above is permissible. But is it helpful?
Some days, the answer will be yes. Other days, it will be no.
God has given all of us a knower—and He informs our knowers with a special power that comes from the Holy Spirit. Our knowers are always speaking to us. Let’s be the ones who pause long enough to listen.
Reading this today, what is your knower saying to you?
Pause long enough to listen,
and if you feel the nudge, post about it in the comments.