“‘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.
Jennifer, thank you for this lovely post. My knower prompted me to leave a comment for the first time on the website, although I have been reading posts here for over a year. The opposite action of what you were prompted to do :). The blogs here (including this one) have been truly special to me. As a result, I have set up a monthly mothers’ meeting in our church in England and also helped out on occasion with the youth group (we did a shortened version of the happiness dare quiz; great to see a group of teenagers discussing happiness) and the toddler’s group. So I want to thank you and all the other writers here for your encouragement, even though you’ve no idea who I am. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I just had to say welcome and thank you for including your voice here. We may not “know” you, but God knows and loves you and I’m so glad He’s directed you here. I love this place because you can be known and still be loved!!
Welcome and blessings to you,
I would like to add to Bev’s warm welcoming, and welcome you too. Over the past few years this place has been a God send to me.
Beth Williams says
Welcome to (In) Courage. So glad you decided to post today. We love reading other people’s comments and getting to know them better. God knows our needs and our hearts. I pray you will post more often here. I pray you feel blessed and welcomed to this site!!
Blessings from E. TN, USA 🙂
Gillian, your ministry with the teenagers as well as with the parents and toddlers sounds great, thank you for sharing.
Hattie Damon says
A very wise former pastor of mine once said, ” throughout your lifetime you will have many opportunities to keep your mouth shut. Take advantage of every one.” He said it with humor and a twinkle in his eye but I chose to take him seriously and I daresay it has kept me from a lot of trouble over the years. Good advice.
Thanks for a great word!
Nancy Ruegg says
Love that pastor’s advice, Hattie! Thank you for sharing.
My knower’s telling me to stop over reacting to things. That is, freaking out instantly. Holy Spirit, help me to gently respond and not to over react.
“‘Everything is permissible for me,’ but not everything is helpful,” Paul wrote to the Corinthians.
Oh, Lord, please give me the wisdom to know the difference!
This is good good good. Yes, the knower speaks and utters WISDOM. The knower, the Holy Spirit teaches and guides us into all truth. At this very second my knower is telling me “You are a good mommy. Continue to be loving and patient with your children”. (I can sometimes be critical of myself). May we all hear and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I can be a very emotionally driven person, so it is GOOD that I have the Knower to rein me in. Probably the best way the Knower helps me is when I am in a situation and I don’t know what to do. He guides me to scripture I’ve read and gently asks, “What did Jesus do there?” and then asks me “What would Jesus do in your situation?” He makes me pause and ask myself if I’m acting/reacting this way because it’s how Bev would do it or is it how Jesus would do it?? Like you, I often need a “time out” to hear His voice. Very poignant post!!
Carol Ann says
Thank you this and all of your other posts. I have been following you for a long time and you are helping me to be a better person. God has always been a part of my life, and a lot of times i read your posts and it is exactly what i need. , or have been thinking about correcting. Blessings and Thank you again.
Thank you Jennifer! So very true, HE is the Knower, and HE leads us into all truth! But it can be so difficult in emotional and traumatic situations, to be sure I am hearing from the Knower. I pray we know what we should do and say concerning our precious grandbabies, who I have written about before, and the detrimental treatment from their parents’ false child-rearing philosophies. I pray for wisdom from HIM who knows, for the parents and for us grandparents. The cultural push of cutting parents and grandparents out of their lives for anything they can use for an excuse, has also been done to us. So we are walking on eggshells all the time. Thank you for sharing and your prayers.
Stacey Keeling says
This is so perfect for me right now! I often think of what is permissible but not necessary in terms of things in the world. I need to think more in terms of what I say. Years ago I read some prayer about Lord help me keep my mouth closed. At the time, I thought it was a little bit comical. Now at 53 I find that I’m saying things I never would have in the past. Time to put the reigns on that!! 🙂
Corena Hall says
To walk with Jesus is awesome because the ” Jekyl” side would win a lot. Now I often hear and stop, I write and delete it from my notes, I ask for abundant Grace and give drops of grace. Then there are days where the resilient independent 9 year old orphan girl from India at 50 knows the wisdom is necessary to be out there, to soothe or remember we are all created by Him. It is the Jesus that was born in a stable & was laid in a wood hewn manger, Who gave and gave and still gives L❤️VE. Who went and embraced a flogging and a nailing to a Cross (yet another wood hewn man made thing) because He dared to be Love. Oh to be the mouth and hands and feet of Him Who loves me so and Who my soul is enamoured with!
Jennifer thank you for the reminder to each moment live in His grace and be the action He called us to be His lovelights, no matter how hard.
Beth Williams says
The Holy Spirit is prompting me to watch my attitude. I can get upset easily. I need to watch how I behave. Want to shine Jesus to the world and not leave a bad taste.
This quote has been a bench mark for me over the years and I am grateful for it.
“LORD, deliver me from the urge to open my mouth when I should shut it.
Give me the wisdom to keep silence where silence is wise.
Remind me that not everything needs to be said, and that
there are very few things that need to be said by me.
Reading your post was very soothing, thank-you.
I’m trying to listen more carefully. Yesterday I’d just told myself off, sat down at the computer, and read a kind message. Following that ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ began to play from my Christmas CD. I think I was being told to stop it, and that despite being hard, my choices are right if they’re made with good intentions.
Have a blessed day,
Mrs H says
Thank you Jennifer! This is such a good reminder. I read this verse the other day but didn’t have it like the way you described here. Thank you for blessing us. Shalom!
Such good wisdom here, Jennifer. I love the idea of a “knower” we all have. This choosing practice helps us grow the fruit of selfcontrol, kindness, gentleness and peace. Thank you for the reminder.
Truer words could not have been spoken. Timely too!
Particularly in this heated political after shock world we are in. Families divided during Thanksgiving feasts and friends unfriending one another over differing opinions. Thank you for the sane and sound anchoring words. My Knower has helped me to draw back and listen more for that still soft voice of wisdom and direction in interacting with others. Encouraging an atmosphere of love and representing Christ at Christmas is even more urgently needed at this time. FB page is most assuredly where we need His words of wisdom and encouragement to share as ambassadors. Merry Christmas to all you amazingly gifted ladies. AM always blessed by the words and personal experiences living in The Word.
Thank you for sharing this encouragement. It is a helpful reminder for me to keep listening to my conscience instead of bad influences around me.
This is wonderful advice. Unfortunately I had to learn the hard way about posting my rant without thinking it through, and it caused a lot of emotional damage. Thank The Lord He heals all, but if I had listened to Him in the first place, I would never have had to go down that long hard road.
Bonnie Jean says
Years ago, I wrote a letter to Elisabeth Elliot. She returned my letter in her own handwriting… which is something I have treasured. I had asked her a few questions and she answered me in a very detailed and Scripture based way… but what has stuck in my mind for years was something very similar to what you said… and to what Paul says… “Just because you can do something, just because you may have the ability to do something… does not mean that you should do that thing… whatever it may be.” It applies to so very many things and has made my decision making processes far easier … although I have to confess that I have not always listened immediately… but I always was forced to come back to it for a conclusion… even if after making a mistake… only to realize why it was a mistake. She was a very wise woman of God and I miss her presence in this world. I look forward to the day when we meet again. I can also identify with you and comments on various social media… which for myself… I generally have to stay off of. My opinion… unless asked for is generally best kept between me and God. Although there are times when I feel compelled to speak… and if I feel as though it passes the test of Paul… and Elisabeth and now you… then I might speak… but I always pause… pray… wait and then speak if I really feel it is the right thing and the right time and the right way. Sometimes life on earth lately feels like walking across a balance beam… without losing your balance. Living in the world but not being of the world. How to be salt and light. Hard things to do and to be sometimes.
Thanks for your reminder on listening to the Holy Spirit as our good, good knower! I hear those small whispers, but too often choose my own prideful way. May I listen more today and in this busy, but beautiful season to come! Bless you and the other readers today! XOXO
Rebecca L Jones says
I’m not sure the knower is a gift from the Holy Spirit, I believe the knower is the Holy Spirit. I was reluctant to post anything, but I knew the Lord was leading me and the Holy Spirit was giving me a voice. I found Pinterest and started blogging, I have had only a couple of rude comments, I was able, by His grace, to be polite or just delete it. Then I found myself in a couple of discussions with people who didn’t even want to listen to another opinion, grace to end the discussion, agree to disagree. Wouldn’t you think angels were a blessing from God? I never started Facebook because of some silly comments I had heard, I might do it eventually, but I will be cautious as usual, discerning, using wisdom. We all have to listen to the knower.
This is exactly what I needed to read today because God has been dealing with me about being too opinionated. Sometimes my opinions sound more like harsh criticism than wise advice. God allowed me to focus on how I sound to the other person and I feel I’ve caused them emotional damage even though I always apologize. I needed a “reality check” and attitude adjustment. I’m researching scriptures on anger and arrogance. I feel so bad about this because I didn’t realize it. I thank God for allowing me to this flaw in my character which shows how much he loves us. Thank you so much Jennifer for posting this!
Michele Morin says
Wise words from Ruth Bell Graham came to mind as I read your post. As she got older and found that she had many opinions on many topics, she resolved not to give her opinion on every subject or at ever opportunity. I try to remember that!
Lynn D. Morrissey says
I was going to say, Jennifer: I think your Knower is the Holy Spirit. You said it for me. I have made a self-imposed rule never to write anything late at night. Sometimes a good night’s sleep, especially undergirded by prayer, puts things into right perspective for me and, hard as it can be for me, I keep my mouth shut and my fingers from wandering. Love you so!
A great word! Thank you. I can relate and have been pausing in my comments when that red flag appears.
Kathy Cheek says
I struggle all the time with slowing down and using that discernment because the flesh is weak sometimes! Thank you for this reminder and emphasizing the significance of this verse and how it can help us in every day life.
Amber Johnson says
Thank you, Jennifer for this reminder! It’s a much needed one, and it can be one that I struggle with at times. I often have to step away, pray, go about life doing something else, and re-group about whether I should respond or not. I appreciate your post! Merry Christmas to you!
I’m ashamed of how I do things. Indirectly, in a cowardly way; manipulative. Judgmental, devoid of love. Hollow. I am afraid to get dirty and sweaty in the arena and love anyone. Sure, I’ll try, but my love insufficient. His love, however, is utterly perfect, timely, and complete. Not lacking in depth or scope, quantity or quality. It is flawless. And that Love walked on this earth 2,000 years ago. And that same Love lives in our hearts.
As difficult as it is for my ego to admit, I had nothing to do with it, except that I was one of the multitude Jesus lived and died to redeem. From before the beginning, the Lord thought I would be a good idea. So He made me. He also gave me several tests that I failed, and opportunities for me to sin or choose Him, the majority of which I chose the former.
But as long as we live, we still have chances to choose life: Jesus. Love. The One who offers an easy yoke, a light burden, and eternal life. The only One.
So, if I could have died long ago, I would have. I am so ashamed of who I was and still, shamefully out of habit, continue to be. But in His great mercy, He did not allow me to die in my sins, and continues to sustain my life.
Thank you for writing your helpful words and offering a place to put these words.
Martha Orlando says
Just taking that moment or two to consider if what we wish to say or do is helpful to another is crucial. Been there many times, Jennifer, believe me, and I’ve never regretted the moment(s) when I chose to hold my tongue instead of spilling out my opinion. Great advice!
Nancy Ruegg says
Amen, Martha. AMEN! (And well said, too!)
Just a short comment but wanted you (and God) to know this reinforces the still, small Voice I hear so many times in so many different situations when listening has saved me from many a regret. But that’s not to say I don’t try to discern the Holy Spirit’s prompting and sometimes am taking a risk of ruffling feathers when I do speak out. My motto has become “speak in boldness for my Lord Jesus Christ.” Merry Christmas Jennifer!!
I Really Love the concept of God’s knower and that though a lot is permissible,not everything is possible. Thank you I am going to start listening more to my knower.
Keri McCue says
I. Needed. This. So much! Seriously, you’re speaking to my soul right now haha Thank you for this reminder!!`
Nancy Ruegg says
Yes, the fruit of the Spirit includes self-control. He’s given us the power to pause, ponder in prayer, and then proceed as he directs. What a comfort to know Someone much wiser than I can make those choices — choices for my good as well as the good of others–so my actions and comments don’t stir up trouble, and I can live guilt-free. Thank you, Jennifer, for your wise advice!
Julie Broadbridge says
Just because I have Cancer and feel overwhelmed by Radiotherapy treatment and emotions, it does not give me the right to snap and lose self control or fly of the handle. Lord help me to pause and take back control and wait on you before reacting. Unless it is useful or will bless and help others teach me to be silent.
I learned today that one of my daughters (19 years old) has made some decisions that could potentially be destructive for her life if continued. Naturally she is keeping it hidden just like the enemy wants her to. My first reaction is to take her by the ear, wag my finger, and have a “come to Jesus” meeting. My knower is telling me to get on my knees and whisper her name before my Lord. So I will wait on Him, for she is His and He loves her more than I do….I’ll let Him bring us into that “large place” for my expectation is from Him alone! My heart hurts though….