As my sister reads books, she regularly highlights sentences and jots down notes in the margins. One day, while riding a train, she was underlining a passage when she overheard a mother reprimanding her child for doodling in a book. My sister quickly put her pen away, not wanting the toddler to ignore her mother’s words by following her example. The child simply wasn’t capable of understanding the difference between a book loaned from the library and a purchased copy—the difference between vandalism and making personal notes in the margin.

My sister’s actions remind me of some inspired words Paul wrote down on the use of our personal freedom: We don’t always have to exercise it; sometimes we limit it for the sake of others (see 1 Corinthians 10:23-24).

In this passage, the apostle was pointing the Corinthians to a paradigm shift in the way they viewed personal freedom. The believers in the young church saw their freedom as an opportunity to pursue personal interests. Paul wrote that, instead, they should view it as an opportunity to benefit and build up others. In other words, they were to use their freedom to choose edification over gratification and others over self (1 Corinthians 10:33). One author puts it this way, “My liberty is no big deal. The big deal is that my brother grows in his walk with Christ.”

You may be thinking, Why should my freedom be limited by what someone else thinks? Paul answers, “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). We honor Him when we put His preferences, plans, and program first—led by the Holy Spirit and inspired by Scripture.

May God provide the grace we need to exercise our freedom in ways that truly honor Him and bless others.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Hebrews 10:19-39