In I Corinthians 10:23, Paul writes “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up.” (ESV) This is a convicting verse when you actually dissect what it means.
All things are lawful…
Paul is simply stating here that all things are lawful. By this he means we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9 and many other passages.) There is nothing we can do to gain entry into heaven. We are never good enough on our own to please God. So because we are not bound by law, but by grace, everything is actually lawful. We have christian liberty. This is sometimes forgotten when we wish to nitpick about every little detail of our lives or of someone else’s life.
but Not All Things are Helpful
Lest you think that Christianity gives us a license to sin, in the second part Paul provides important balance. Yes all things may be lawful because of grace, but not all things are helpful. In Romans 6, Paul states: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:1-4 ESV) Paul later discusses being transformed by the newing of your mind (Romans 12:2). This should affect all aspects of life including our friends, choice of entertainment, money habits, etc. I am writing this post partly for myself as much as anyone else. I recently discovered Amazon Video and have been fascinated by the “true crime” channel. Yet these verses came to mind this afternoon and it struck me that perhaps I may be spending a bit too much of my time engrossed in entertainment and not enough doing other pursuits that might be more beneficial for me and/or the kingdom of God. Is watching crime shows unlawful? No, of course not. Does it have the potential to become addicting and create an unhealthy balance if not kept in check? Absolutely. Remember we are all given the same 24 hours in a day, and God expects us to use our time wisely for his glory. Let us all evaluate how we use the time God gives us and make the changes we feel we need to make. And let us make sure we take out the plank in our own eye in this area so we can see to take out the speck in our brother’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5)