Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims.
First Corinthians 6: 12 The Message
This verse from Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth points to an important distinction for Christians. Legality is different from morality, or even healthy spirituality. To put it another way, a law on the books of our city, state, or country does not always equal God’s stamp of approval.
History has shown this to be true. At various times, civil governments have approved of all sorts of practices which we now realize are offensive. Our moral guide needs to be more than “whatever I can get away with” according to the laws of the state.
I’m not speaking of going against the law, but rather, just because it’s legal to commit an act doesn’t mean we should do it. Our initial instinct is often what we need to listen to. Instead, we can talk ourselves into sin, convincing ourselves that it’s alright, especially when others are acting and saying things that are technically “okay”.
Paul knows full well what the logical conclusion of such thinking is: we become a slave to our passions. We are constantly pushing the boundaries, and sometimes breaking through them. Excess becomes our master. When we have reached that point, we have truly become “a slave to our whims!”
We need to aim for a higher standard: pleasing our Lord. If we ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?”, we will end up making better choices. The alternative is to ask, “What’s legal, or what is allowed?”
What is our rule? It is this: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, your mind, your soul, and your strength.” And “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
When we stay within the laws of our country, and stay further within the Lord’s law, we are more likely to stay within the Lord’s will. We will not need to second guess our decisions. Let us strive to be a slave to Christ, rather than our whims.
Lord of all,
Sometimes, the secret to succeeding in life is to ask the right questions. Help each of us to do that in our own lives. Instead of asking, “What is legal?” or “What is everyone else doing?” remind me to ask myself, “What would You have me do?” May I always strive to serve You, in every area of my life. I pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.