21 March 2016
Reading: 1 Corinthians 6; Psalm 129
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. (1 Corinthians 6:12 MSG)
The Corinthian Christians were allowing their relationships to deteriorate to the point that they were taking each other to court over personal and financial issues – not a court of believers, but the Roman courts. Their attitude was, “There’s nothing in the Jewish scriptures or the apostolic writings that prohibits this, so that’s what we’ll do.”
They were asking the wrong question. Their question was, “Is it legal?” The question they should have been asking is, “Is it right?”
Besides this, in the never-ending battle between legalism and grace, some people in the Corinthian church were living pretty close to the immoral edge, justifying their attitudes and actions by defining their behavior as “technically legal.” Paul told them that not everything that is technically legal is spiritually appropriate.
Legalism is another word for laziness. It’s comparatively easy to make a list of things that are technically legal and another list of things that are technically illegal and then base every judgment on our rules. It’s hard work to seek the wisdom of God’s love and the direction of God’s Spirit so we can live and think and speak and act in a way that is spiritually appropriate.
Living a spiritually appropriate life requires immersion in God’s Word, fellowship with God’s Spirit, healthy interaction with fellow Christ-followers, and careful engagement with our culture. Are we willing to do the hard work of determining what is spiritually appropriate in each situation, or will we take the lazy legalism way?
Father, Please forgive me for too often taking the lazy way of technical legality. Help me to live the strenuous life of daily asking, listening, hearing, and responding to your living direction. I want to live a life that doesn’t substitute “allowable” for “right,” and “technically legal” for “spiritually appropriate.” For this I need your wisdom and your grace. Amen.