Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Is it beneficial or just allowed?

When I make mistakes, I can usually trace it back to a whim or an impulse. Something I thought I wanted or "needed" without thinking through the results.

Ultimately, I end up regretting my choice. I begin to lower respect for who I am because of what I did or chose. Permissible doesn't always mean it is good for me.

I searched for a long time to find something to help me with this issue. I finally found it in 1 Corinthians 6:12, "Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial..."

I love the idea of looking at the furthest outcome and tracing my steps backwards. Can I live with the long term ramifications? Usually that will stop me right in my tracks! But sometimes that old adage, "The end justifies the means," comes into play. Then I have to keep tracing back my possible choice to the root.

And yes, I've thrown caution to the wind and stepped out without considering the consequences. Ahem, those are usually not my most beneficial moments!

If you've come over from the F.A.I.T.H. Girls blog, you've seen Part I of this post (there's really no part 1 or 2, you can read them out of order and still follow.)

I've made enough mistakes that I started asking myself some questions:

1. Who could be hurt?
2. Is it a right or just something I think is a right? There is a difference!
3. Is it the right thing to do whether it's permissible or not?
4. Do I have to justify it now or in the future?
5. Would it embarrass me, God, or someone I care about?
6. Just because I can, should I?
7. Who would I inspire by this choice? Flip side: Who would I derail?
8. Is it a benefit or is it truly beneficial?

What does beneficial mean anyway?

Here's a few possible definitions.
1. Conducive to personal or social well-being.
2. Useful aid.
3. Something that improves or helps.

If that is a good explanation for the word "beneficial" or "benefit" then I suggest it as a litmus test for the choices we make.

Try putting your goal, want, or desire into this sentence as a test for yourself.

If I choose ___________________, how will it be a useful aid that improves or helps me?

Now add this:

_______________ helps me by improving __________________ in my life and will in no way harm any relationship or trust I now enjoy.

Trust me, eating all the chocolate chip cookie dough I wanted did not improve my life. In fact I felt awful physically and mentally after giving in to that choice. Neither did some of the other impulsive choices I've made work out very well.

When I walk myself through some of these questions, even just one of them, I can often find the answer. It may not be a helpful benefit even if it is culturally accepted or approved. Remember the lemming story. Do we really need to follow all the lemmings over the cliff?

Please share your thoughts.
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