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"Everything is permissible for me"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"-- but I will not be mastered by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12)
One of the most neglected spiritual disciplines is the discipline of fasting. While typically thought of in connection to food, the discipline of fasting is a way of setting aside something that is not necessarily a bad thing in favor of an even better thing, namely seeking God in a more fervent manner. Sometimes we fast because we are facing a big decision and want to seek God in a more determined way. Other times we fast because we are struggling through a difficult time and need to depend on Him in a greater way.
But other times, fasting – whether from food or something else – can be a way of ensuring that we are not being mastered by anything, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:12. In the specific context of 1 Corinthians 6, Paul is addressing the sexual immorality of the Corinthian church. He quotes a saying that was familiar to Corinth – “Everything is permissible to me” – and qualifies it for the church by saying “but not everything is beneficial” and “but I will not be mastered by anything.” Yes, there are many things out there in which you can participate, but that does not mean it is good for you to do so.
Let me challenge you this week to find something that is threatening to master you, and to fast from it for a period of time. For example, you could stay off of Facebook for a day (or longer), turn off the radio in the car, not eat dessert for a week, abstain from coffee, choose not to buy something that you really want, turn off the TV for a few days, stay off some of your favorite websites, or stop playing your favorite games on your smartphone. Or, you could do a traditional fast, abstaining from food for a period of time. Take the time or money that has been freed up and devote it to God in some way. Pray. Read the Bible. Write an encouraging letter to a friend. Make a donation to a ministry or send a gift to someone in need. Spend time with your children. Call your parents. Read a book. You may just find that you don’t miss the thing you have given up as much as you thought you would, and that your new way of living actually brings you greater satisfaction.
Everything is permissible for you, but not everything is good for you. Everything is permissible for you, but do not allow yourself to be mastered by anything. Enjoy the good gifts that God has given you, but make sure your primary devotion is to the Giver of those good gifts.
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