1 Corinthians 10:23-24 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. (NIV)
Christianity has never been about doing what we like to the detriment of others; it has always been about seeking the good of others around us in order to show God’s love through us. It can be very easy to do what we want and justify our actions by claiming that God approves, but that’s not faith; that’s self-indulgence and borders on idolatry where we put ourselves first and expect God to follow our lead.
When Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, he had to deal with this selfish attitude and nip it in the bud. Why? Because if he hadn’t put a stop to it, selfishness would have contaminated the whole congregation and Christ’s work would have been blemished by blatantly self-serving ‘believers.’ Christ called people to faith and asked them to be servants in God’s Kingdom. Paul had experienced this for himself on the Damascus road when Jesus stopped him in his tracks. Paul was serving his own fanatic and religious zeal; Christ needed him to completely change in order to serve the very church he was persecuting.
One of the great sadnesses that I have witnessed in recent years has been the rise of self-centered Christians who care more about themselves than they do of the wider community. They put themselves first over the common good of others and whenever they come across something that they disapprove, they cloak it in their own self-made faith which causes them to despise or dismiss others simply because they have different views.
We live in troubled times, but most of our troubles are caused because we follow our own ideas and opinions, instead of faithfully asking God for counsel, wisdom, and guidance. Instead of catching on to what God is doing in the world, we want Him to catch up with us; rather than be led by His Spirit, we go our own way and expect God to change His direction.
Proverbs 16:25 warns us explicitly: There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death. (NIV). May we all reflect on what we believe is right and humbly ask God to show us instead what is really true.
Prayer: Lord God, open our eyes and minds to all that is true and help us then to do what is right. Challenge our self-centered ways and penetrate our hardened hearts in order to enable us to seek to serve rather than to be served. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.