“All things are lawful,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. (1 Cor. 10:23)
John Wesley, born in 1703 and founder of the Methodist movement, said,
Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.
The church at Corinth which Paul was addressing in the books of 1 & 2 Corinthians was a divided community. They were fighting over what you could or could not eat, marriage and sex, communion, spiritual gifts, and who was more important than who. In other words, they were fighting over pretty much everything and endangering the church.
Paul takes on these issues in an effort to settle the disputes and keep the church together. And though his responses are not always helpful for us today, such as the subordinate role of women in the church, his focus on caring for each other and building up one another is a message we still need to hear. As Paul writes in 10:24, "Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other."
If we want to live in a better community and a better world, we should act in ways that are beneficial and that build up our community and our world. We should seek the advantage of others and not just our own selves. We must, as Wesley prescribed, do all the good we can. When we do, we will discover that beloved community of God which Jesus declared is near.