1 Corinthians 6:12 (NLT)
You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.
We have all been blessed with free will. Free will is that wonderful ability to make decisions and choices on our own accord without any input from or advice from someone else. It means we can do what we want to. We are permitted to do anything, go anywhere, look, act, and talk in any way that we like. It allows us to push forward and to cut back. Free will is a beautiful and a dangerous thing.
It is beautiful and dangerous because it allows us to be able to do things that are good and righteous in our own lives and in the world, but it also allows us to do things that cause pain and stress. And some of us take our free will too far to the latter extreme. You can work for a reasonable amount of time every day and create balance and margin in your life to do other things like eat dinner with the family, go to the movies, go to the beach and just watch the sun go down. Or you can overload your to-do list and try to cram an insane amount of tasks into one day and go through the day frustrated, overwhelmed, and angry with the world. God isn’t going to stop you nor empower you on either account.
Everything you are doing may be good. You may be overworking yourself on a great cause or on a project that is going to help a lot of people, but that’s not the point. The question here is: Is it beneficial? Is it the best possible thing you could be doing at this time? If we were to answer that question honestly, most of us would have to say that some of what we do on a daily basis is beneficial to no one, not even ourselves.
In your life, you will have to learn to say “no” to many things so you will have time and space in your life to say “yes” to the things that really matter. Have you ever felt like you can’t do everything? You know that overwhelming, suffocating, almost drowning feeling that you get when you know deep down you’re trying to do way too much. Well, that’s a feeling you should listen to because it is telling you the truth.
You can’t do everything and God doesn’t want you to do everything. He wants us to focus on doing the right things. Some activities in our lives need to be cut at times not because they are evil, but because they are not giving us the best use of our time and energy. You will be extraordinarily more effective in life if you seek God’s guidance in settling on the things you are going to do just as equally as the things you are not going to do.
Sometimes, God will do some of this editing of activities for us. He won’t control our free will but he will use situations in our lives to help us slow down, reevaluate our priorities, and turn our focus back to him and to his good will and plan for our lives. You cannot live beyond the limits of your time, energy, money and resources every single day of your life. Yes, you are allowed to do anything you want, but not everything you do is good for you. We tend to think that the more we have or the more we do, the better off we are. But in reality, the less we have and the less we do leaves us more room to do the things that really matter.
“If we were equipped with a flashing light to indicate “100 percent full,” we could better gauge our capacities. But we don’t have such an indicator light, and we don’t know when we have overextended until we feel the pain. As a result, many people commit to a 120 percent life and wonder why the burden feels so heavy. It is rare to see a life prescheduled to only 80 percent, leaving a margin for responding to the unexpected that God sends our way.”
— Richard Swenson