by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward
They refused to sit down. Over the course of the first half of the football game several of the older fans around them politely asked the young couple to sit so they could see. But they ignored the requests.
They didn’t just hop up when something exciting happened. They stood continuously. Which would have been fine on the student side of the field. But alumni, parents, and grandparents filled this side. Many who could not physically stand for long periods of time.
Just before half time a university employee approached the standing pair. Ah, someone had complained.
Will you please sit so others around you can see?
No. We have every right to stand if we want. We will not sit.
The employee shrugged and turned away.
I’d like to say the situation resolved with civility. Unfortunately, after the couple refused the employee’s request a few of the nearby fans got nasty. People tossed out rude comments. Still others approached them with less than polite demands to sit.
By the time the two football teams headed to the locker room for half time, tears ran down the young woman’s face and her husband looked like he could spit fire.
Did they have the right to stand for the entire game? Yes. No law against it.
Was it right for them to stand for the entire game? Especially when they knew their actions inconvenienced or harmed others? No.
Graciously letting go of their right for the benefit of others would have been the right thing to do.
Believers regularly have a similar choice to make. Christ’s sacrifice has set us free from sin, death, and the Law. Our life in Christ grants us great liberty. God has freed us from legalism and guilt. Yet, many things we have the freedom to do may not be God’s best for us – or others around us – in a given situation.
Paul confronts this issue in his first letter to the Christians in Corinth. The specific situation involved eating meat sacrificed to idols. Because an idol of wood has no power, meat sacrificed to it benefits the body the same as other meat. A believer was “free” to eat. However, some believers had trouble with this truth. Seeing a mature believer eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols would have confused and misguided them.
Paul clearly taught a believer’s “freedom” must take a backseat to the well-being of others.
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… So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:23-24, 31, NIV)
When we make decisions regarding our freedom, God’s glory and the needs of others should always be our guiding principles. We may have the right to eat, drink, or act, but is it right? May grace and God’s glory guide our choices.
About the author: Find out more about how to treat others with grace in Kathy Howard’s Bible study Lavish Grace: Poured Out, Poured Through, and Overflowing.Lavish Grace is a 9-week journey with the apostle Paul that helps readers discover God’s abundant grace for their daily lives and relationships. You can find out more about Kathy, her speaking and writing, and find free resources at www.KathyHoward.org.
Join the conversation: Have you ever given up a right because it was the right thing to do?