|Photo credit: favim|
There’s a line in a Jason Upton song, In the beginning Part 2, which just captivated me one day. It says: “Deliver us from the temptations of what we can do, that have trapped us in the bondage of the system of this world.” This line is just incredible, as I understand it, just because we CAN do something doesn’t mean that we SHOULD do it.
“"Everything is permissible"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"--but not everything is constructive.” 1 Cor 10:23
““All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.” 1 Cor 6:12
Paul is saying to the Corinthians that just because all things are permissible, not all things are helpful and uplifting. He mentions that he will not be enslaved to anything. Just because something is permissible, doesn't mean that it is beneficial for our bodies, emotions and spirits. This statement is quite general and hard to confine to a short blog, so I’ll just highlight two things which it immediately speaks to me about.
Firstly, God has called us for a purpose. Certain things we will have to say yes to and certain things we will have to say no to. We cannot do it all, because doing it all will eventually lead to spreading ourselves too thinly and not serving wholeheartedly as God calls us to. We will also end up feeling drained and demotivated. The things that we will have to say no to can be good things, godly things, but things which God has not asked us to do at this moment in time. Or the things that we have to say no to can just be ordinary things, but things that can steal or distract us from what God is asking us to do and these things will always leave us in a place of feeling more drained after we started than before.
You will have to identify for yourself what this can be in your life, there is no list, no set of rules. It can be that God wants you to help a friend or simply rest, but then you feel obligated to be involved in a fundraiser which takes up your whole day. Fundraising is not a bad thing, but it’s not helpful if God has another plan for you or if He knows that you need rest. The same thing with watching television, one day it is fine to watch television for hours, another day it drains you and steals you away from something amazing which God could have shown you that day.
Secondly, we should never become enslaved to anything. To me this means that I should not make anything else more important than God. I should not be enslaved by work, sports, recreational activities or even the opinions of others. The list is very long and this will be different for every individual, we all know where our weaknesses lie and which things distract us from God.
The point is that when we focus our attention on God, we won’t be so affected by the world and their views and expectations. We won’t feel condemned for not doing something, if God did not ask us to, even if other people don’t see it the way that we do. We need to learn to live life free from the expectations of other. Yes, we will make commitments, have responsibilities and respect others, but we do not need to be conformed to what other people expect us to be.
We need to walk in step with God, so that we always know when to say yes and when to say no. What God asks from every person will be different and there is no set pattern and you cannot ask or look at a friend. It is between you and God and only you will know what is helpful in your life and what is not. You will have to be honest with yourself and maybe even let go of some things which you enjoy. But be certain that the fruit that we reap from walking with God will always outweigh any other benefit that we thought we might have had. In this way we will always be effective in love without becoming drained or discouraged and we will live the life of abundance and joy that God has for us.
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” Gal 5:25