‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are beneficial. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all build up. (1 Cor. 10:23)
I have been puzzled and dismayed at how often I have recently heard people insisting that they will not wear a mask because it “goes against [their] constitutional rights.”
Those who play this card are wrong in a couple of ways. First, they are wrong legally because governments do have the power to regulate in the name of safety. Second, they are wrong ethically, morally, and spiritually. How can any responsible citizen, and how can any faithful disciple of Jesus, think that insisting upon their rights (even erroneously) is more important than putting another human being and child of God at risk? Such a stand is indefensible.
Are wearing masks distracting or inconvenient? Yes, and we just need to get over it. Wearing a mask is the responsible thing to do not only for our own health, but also to protect others. Undoubtedly and sadly, some of the spike we are currently seeing stems from people who are insisting upon their rights.
In today’s scripture Paul is encouraging the Christians in Corinth to move beyond doing what is lawful in order to do what is beneficial. In other words, he’s asking them to move beyond insisting upon their rights in order to do the things that build up and benefit others.
As a country, we are at our best when we think about what is good for those around us and for our fellow citizens. We are at our strongest when we do our part for the common good. We are at our most healthy when we care about the health and safety of others.
Our hope to survive and get through this pandemic is not by insisting upon our rights, but to do what is right. That is what Paul is saying in today’s scripture. That is what Jesus is saying when He says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Although those who insist upon their rights may sound strong, this position is actually weak, selfish, immature, and dangerous. And, it is unfaithful. God does not give His children life so that another of His children will needlessly and foolishly put anyone else at risk.
- How do you interpret today’s scripture?
- How do you think that Paul’s words apply to our current challenges?
- How could Paul’s word impact how you treat others?