23 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being. (1 Corinthians 10:23–24, NKJV)
Paul is discussing liberties, freedoms that are approved by God’s law. “All things” must be understood in this light, since “all things” does not include sinful things (sin is hurtful, not “helpful”). Even when God’s word shows something is lawful, doing it may not help or expedite the other person’s well-being. (See 1 Cor. 8-10 for a full discussion of this subject.) When we demand our approved “right” or “liberty” at the expense of another brother’s conscience, we do not edify them; we become a stumbling block to them (1 Cor. 8:9-12). Paul considered whether using his liberty would aid and strengthen others’ spiritual welfare (v. 24). It will not do for us to discount others by demanding our lawful liberty. We are to “give no offense” (be no occasion of stumbling) to others (1 Cor. 10:32). We are always to use our liberties to bring glory to God (1 Cor. 10:31). Sometimes this will mean not using our liberty for the sake of those who are weak in conscience so “they may be saved” (1 Cor. 10:33). Sacrificing our liberty for others’ salvation is imitating Christ and His apostle (1 Cor. 11:1). Something is not our liberty or right unless it is first lawful. If it is, we must ascertain whether using it will help build up or hinder and tear down.