Permissible or Beneficial

There are many ways people in our society manage their time and their money.  Those who have gone through hard times and experienced shortage may tend to be more cautious with their resources while those for whom life has been easy with plenty in the account at all times may be at more ease to spend in areas of short-term enjoyment .  They may feel an $18 hamburger in a fancy restaurant is worth it while this would be a waste to others. 

Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:23 writes, “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.  Everything is permissible, but not everything is constructive.”    In this context, he is speaking of Christian freedom in the area of eating meat offered to idols.  In that day, a host may have sees nothing wrong with offering such meat to guests even knowing their convictions were different.  Paul is saying that even though it is permissible for you, it may not be beneficial for other people in the area of their faith.  So just don’t go there.

There are many things that are permissible but not beneficial or constructive.  Of themselves, they are not sinful but they may not work towards the more important goals.  Being an avid sports fan is permissible.  It may not have benefit though and could actually do harm in relationships if out of balance.  Eating a second donut is permissible but may not be beneficial.  Smoking cigarettes is permissible, but never beneficial. 

Given this freedom, the determining factor for each of us is what we identify as the more important objectives in life.  If it is saving for retirement or if it is enjoying life with friends, we make decisions accordingly.  For both of these, everything is permissible but not necessarily beneficial.  For the cautious saver, life is not guaranteed into retirement years.  For the fun loving soul, days of plenty may end.

In areas not identified as sinful, what basis are you using to make your decisions?  These decisions are personal, yet God knows what is beneficial both for you and for those around you.  Eternal benefit is the greatest benefit.  We find the wisdom towards this end in the Bible.  Consulting God who knows all seems wise.  He has given us the Bible as a guide for this life.  If you approach it with an open heart, you will be amazed how practical it is and what benefits await you.