When I moved to college, I was told by campus leaders to ask myself two questions when considering my actions: 1. Is this lawful? 2. Is this wise?
Most of us, I would hope, don’t have much of a problem with considering what is lawful. But discerning what is wise is much more difficult to answer. It requires personal reflection and discernment.
When we consider the Freedom V, the outside lines of the V answer the first question: what is lawful. These are the hard external boundaries that everyone has to keep. But, as we know, living the good life is not just about following the law. We also have to consider what is wise in order to flourish. And this can mean having to restrict yourself further than what the law insists you do.
What Is Lawful
1 Corinthians 6:12 says, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.”
In the larger context of this passage, Paul is instructing the church in Corinth to flee immorality and view their bodies as belonging to the Lord. He, like my campus leaders, is asking them to consider if what they’re doing is lawful and wise.
Christ’s death made it so that we no longer have to follow all the Levitical laws in order to be holy and acceptable before God. There is no law instructing us not to eat pork or wear blended fabrics anymore, for example, but we still have to ask ourselves what is wise. Just because something is permitted does not mean that it is profitable.
What Is Wise
The second half of this verse is interesting because it asks us to consider if we are being mastered by anything. If we are Christians, we should owe all our devotion to God. And yet, we often give our time, attention, and allegiance to other things, which in turn can become masters over us.
If we look at the Two Circles, we see that in the Victim Circle we may think that we are free, but in fact we are allowing our circumstances to control us and dictate how we act and feel. Only in the Circle of Choice where we recognize the three things we can control–our perspective, our actions, and who we trust–can we find true freedom. When we idolize someone or something and let it master us, we give up our freedom and step into the Victim Circle.
The good news today is that the Freedom V doesn’t start and end at the hard external lines. We have been given the ability to discern and must cultivate wisdom to create boundaries for ourselves that narrow our personal V. When you were younger and less experienced, others in your life placed you further down the V, and you had tighter external boundaries. But now that your V is wider it’s up to you to not only obey what is lawful, but also to decide what is wise.
Boundaries are not meant to restrict us. They are meant to lead us into a life of freedom where the actions we take are profitable to us and we do not allow ourselves to be mastered by anyone or anything. We take agency over our own lives by choosing our perspective, actions, and who to trust. We must live in wisdom as well as within the bounds of the law in order to have the freedom to pursue our There.
Gracie McBride is the Content and Systems Management Coordinator for The Crossroad.