In Romans, Paul writes:
“‘We are allowed to do all things’, but not all things are good for us to do.”
Fine. He’s saying that just because we can do something, doesn’t mean it’s good idea. So, that’s the only standard by which we measure our behavior, right?
Look at what he says next:
“‘We are allowed to do all things’, but not all things help others grow stronger. Do not look out only for yourselves. Look out for the good of others also.”
Hmmm. So, what Paul is telling us is that we don’t only need to do what is good for us, we need to think about what effect our actions have on others.
Sure, we can eat that food in front of our children, but is that good for us? No. Furthermore, is it setting a good example for our children? Definitely not!
Yes, we can watch that movie or television show, but is our friend, who is a new convert, going to think that’s an appropriate thing do to? And, even though the material may not cause you to stumble, it might be detrimental to others who are also being exposed.
“But why, you ask, should my freedom be judged by someone else’s conscience?”
Asked, and answered:
“The answer is, if you eat or drink, or if you do anything, do it all for the glory of God.”
There’s the litmus test. If we make sure that our actions are bringing glory to God – and, I admit, that’s a pretty tall order – we don’t have to worry about any of those criteria Paul is putting forth.
It will be good for us.
It will be good for others.
Win-win situation, wouldn’t you say?