I Cor 10:23
"Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive.
I have lived in my current residence for over 20 years. I live on a half-cul-du-sac; which means that one road comes from the West, and stops at my house and another comes from the North and stops here. It is an odd shaped lot. I have seven neighbors whose yards touch mine. Because I am on the outside part of the curve, my lot should actually be divided up into two large lots, but there is not enough curb space for two houses.
I tell you this so that you will understand my lawn-mowing predicament. I have a large area of lawn to mow - slightly over half an acre. It is really an awkward lot. If it were a smaller, "normal" sized lot, mowing with a regular lawn mower would be no problem. On the other hand, if it were larger, say an acre, I would have no problem justifying having a riding mower. But at the size it is, it is an arduous task to mow with a push mower and a riding mower has always seemed over-kill. So, I have always had a regular push mower. When I would mulch the grass, it took about two and a half or three hours to mow. When I had to bag the grass, it took over six hours.
When I had two strapping young sons, this was really not a problem. I could simply tell them to go out and mow the grass. However, when they grew up and moved out, the onus was back on me to do the chore. Finally, I broke down and bought my wife a riding mower. (Actually, it was supposed to be mine, but the only way I could get her to agree was to promise her that I would let her mow on the new, fun machine.) We bought one of those ZTR (zero-turn-radius) mowers, which can spin like a top. That was over three years ago, and now, I seldom have the pleasure of mowing the lawn.
The mower is great. It has two handles, one for the left wheel and the other for the right. Pushing a handle forward makes that wheel drive you forward and pulling a handle backward makes that wheel drive you backward. Push both handles forward and you move forward. Pull both handles backward and you move backward. Push one forward and the other backward and you will spin like a top until you get dizzy and lose your lunch, or you are thrown from the seat like a cowboy riding a wild bull. If your lawn is a simple square or rectangle, you can actually make 90 degree turns at each corner and cut it in a perfect square.
At least, that is the theory. It all works well in the store parking lot or in your driveway, but I have found a caveat. While the mower is quite capable of having one wheel drive forward and the other backward, and spinning like a top, my lawn is a might too fragile for that behavior. While I can do that, or sharp turns with the mower in my driveway, if I do that on my lawn, it tears up the grass. You can see small spots of mud (or dirt) in spots where I have cut the corner too sharp or spun the mower too tight.
I believe that this is what St. Paul is telling us Christians. Under the blood of Jesus, our sin has been forgiven. We are no longer bound by the law ... do this, don't do that ... but, we should not use our freedom if it is going to "tear up the lawn." Just as my mower has way more power and agility than what I need to do my lawn, we as Christians have been empowered with freedom to do more than we have the need for most times. And, just as my mower needs a gentle hand so I don't use that power to rip the grass out of my lawn, we also need to temper our freedom with the gentleness of the Spirit (coincidently, that is also one of the fruit of the Spirit) so that we don't rip other people apart with our freedom.