Happy Memorial Day! Or if you are reading this at a later date… Happy Day! This is truly one of my favorite weekends of the year. It is a great honor for me to remember those who laid down their right to life for the common good. Please take a moment of silence, at some point today, to reflect on their sacrifice. They died so we can live as free men and women. So the question remains… how do we use our freedom wisely?
Memorial Day also marks a soft opening to the summer season. And as far as we know, at the moment, we are nearing the beginning of phase three of quarantine here in Illinois. June will look much different than April and May. So what will you do with your new found freedom?
Many will take the opportunity this week to open up your pools, take the boat out on the lake or give your BBQ grill a much-needed cleaning. Others will flood the barbershops and hair salons to get a tune up. Or maybe some will find some outdoor dining or a state park somewhere and hopefully relax. Now, our family has not decided what we are going to do yet, but at some point, I’m sure, we will do a little grilling; take the bikes out for a spin and hopefully do some hiking. One thing is for sure, we are going to spend some time in the great outdoors, if the weather holds up…that is a big if! But for now, we wait on the powers that be to set us free.
Freedom is a tricky subject nowadays, especially on holidays and weekends. We cannot simply declare ourselves free to do anything we please. We cannot shop where we want to shop, travel where we want to travel or eat where we want to eat. Instead these freedoms must be released back to us. And when they are released, we still need to proceed with caution.
This reminds me of a statement made by Paul in the book of 1 Corinthians:
Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. – 1 Corinthians 10:23-24
This is a rights verses responsibility type of argument and it is over 2,000 years old. In fact, the book of 1 Corinthians is filled with these types of scenarios. Here are a few examples taken directly from scripture and a couple contemporary examples as well:
If you live with a diabetic, you have the right to eat all the sugar you want. However, you might find it more beneficial to eliminate the temptation.
If you are a preacher, you have the right to take a salary for preaching and teaching. But if the congregation is lazy or stingy it may be beneficial, for the preacher, to make his own way.
If you are an adult, over the age of 21 here in America, you have the right to have a drink now and then. However, if you live with an alcoholic you may find it more beneficial to abstain.
Men and women have the right to dress however they want. However, it may be more beneficial to stay away from certain clothing that has a cultural connection to sinful behaviors.
If you work long hours you have the right to come home after work and relax. However, if you have a spouse and children, you may find it more beneficial to interact with them rather than retreating to the couch.
When you are attending a picnic you have the right to eat as much as you want and even jump to the head of the line. However, if you are wealthy, it may be more beneficial to let the poor eat first and save your indulgence for your home.
If you have a special ability that draws attention from others, you have the right to monetize your natural abilities and spend time building your brand. However, you may find it more beneficial to use your talents to bring glory to God.
If you are healthy and your immune system is strong, you will soon have the right to… Fill in the Blank, but you may find it more beneficial to continue to practice social distancing and follow the CDC guidelines in order to help those who are at a higher risk than you.
Half of these scenarios are found in the letter of 1 Corinthians. To find out which you’ll need to read the letter for yourself. But until then, and moving forward, we must pray for wisdom so that we may be able to discern what is permissible and what is beneficial.
Either way, this remains clear. The common good is more beneficial than our individual rights. Why do I say this? Because Paul did, and if we follow his advise we should consider the common good first before acting out in the name of individual rights. What was his reasoning? Jesus…
Jesus’ sacrifice is the ultimate example of one who let go of his own rights for the common good.
Be wise and have a great week!