Today’s Reading: 1 Corinthians 6
Columbia researcher Sheena Iyengar has found that the average person makes about 70 decisions every day. That’s 25,500 decisions a year. Over 70 years, that’s 1,788,500 decisions. The twentieth-century philosopher, Albert Camus once said, “Life is a sum of all your choices.” You put all of those 1,788,500 choices together, and that’s who you are. As Stephen Covey said: “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”
One person insightfully said: “Many people today want filet mignon results but make hot dog decisions. It doesn’t work that way!” I want to help you with your filet-mignon results and give you filet-mignon decision-making skills from the apostle Paul. In fact if we take one verse in 1 Corinthians 6 and add one more verse from 1 Corinthians 10, I think we can take from Paul a good decision-making grid for our daily lives. In these two verses, Paul gives us three questions you and I are to impose on our choices each day. And they all start with “all things are lawful”:
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.
(1 Corinthians 6:12)
All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. (1 Corinthians 10:23)
Another way to say “all things are lawful” is to follow how The Message describes it: “Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate” (1 Corinthians 6:12). What Paul is saying to us is just because we can doesn’t mean we should.
These are not things that “send you to hell” but they can be things that cause hell in your life if you aren’t careful.
Scrutinize your decisions with these Pauline questions. Impose questions on things that will take up your most precious resource—time.
First question: All things are lawful, but is this thing profitable?
That word, profitable, meant a traveling companion. Does it travel well with my travel partner Jesus? Can Jesus and this new decision go well together? Or will there be tension in the house?
Second question: All things are lawful, but will it control me?
One version of this verse says: “Even if I am allowed to do them, I’ll refuse to if I think they might get such a grip on me that I can’t easily stop when I want to” (TLB).
One test of being controlled or mastered by something: Do you get angry when people ask you to stop? Or when people challenge you on it?
This can be a great question to impose on anything as simple as . . .
Fantasy football to watching football every Saturday
Old friends and relationships
The list goes on. All these things are lawful, but is this thing profitable? Will it control me and master me—or get a “grip on me that I can’t easily stop when I want to”?
The third question to ask is from 1 Corinthians 10:23: All things are lawful, but will it edify others?
Say this with me, “It’s not all about me.” The word edify is from the word edifice. It’s a building word. It’s about helping people build their lives. If you say, “I don’t care what other people think about what I say or do,” you’re clinging to a belief that is unbiblical. You and I have to care, because we are responsible for their growth. We don’t live by people’s opinions but we do live to help them grow.
One Christmas someone became upset because I put a Christmas tree up in the church and they thought it was a druid idol. So I took it down. I am not going to fight over a Christmas tree, but I will fight over the truth of the Bible. I will yield on preference but not on biblical conviction.
Let’s sum up the decision grid Paul gives us: All things are lawful, but . . . can Jesus hang out with this choice? Is something hanging on that won’t let go? Am I hanging someone up by my choices?
The great Russian author Dostoyevski reminds us why these three questions are important for us: “The second half of a man’s life is made up of the habits he acquired during the first half.”
Let’s get some good first-half habits.