In our culture, it is not uncommon to hear someone say, “I have the right to do what I want to do for my own good,” especially in areas of personal choice and life decisions. At the heart of this statement is a belief that our identity is founded on and formed by these expressions of personal freedom.
This pursuit of “doing what’s best for me” is as old as the garden of Eden. We are all lovers of self by nature. In fact, the Bible presupposes self-love. This is why the command to “love [others] as yourself” is so deeply unsettling (Matthew 22:39). It means that we have to love others with the same amount of energy, force, and sacrifice that we do for ourselves. It should be no surprise then that in our culture, people’s consciousness is so bound by self-love.
However, in matters of the Christian’s personal conscience, the Bible is clear: “No one is to seek his own good, but the good of the other person” (1 Corinthians 10:24). The pursuit of good toward others is the ultimate expression of love. We do to others what we would have them do for us, even when it curtails our own desires and freedoms.
Jesus Christ provided the ultimate expression of this command in His loving pursuit of good for the sake of others. Christ gave up many freedoms to secure our salvation. Now as ambassadors for Christ, we are called to give up many personal rights and preferences, so that others may receive and enjoy His salvation too. This is not always easy, since our sinful hearts often tempt us to insist on our own rights at the expense of others.
To make matters even more complex, there are also times when we must pursue our freedoms in order to confront the legalism of others. Regardless, the heart of the issue here can be stated in a simple but heart-searching question, namely, “How does this choice or decision honor God, love others, and promote the gospel?”
As Christians, our identity is found in Christ, and our identity is formed as we imitate Christ. In Him we see the greatest form of love the world has ever known. He died for our good and our gain. Now, we are called to die to self for the good of others.
In a culture fully drunk on self-love, it’s easy for people to reason, “I have the right to do what I want to do for my own good.” Yet, we as Christians are called to live out the biblical law of love which says, “I will lay down my rights for the good of others.”
Written by Matt Capps