"To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it."
I suppose for most of us, we view everything we do through the lens of "freedom." As Americans we hold to our "rights" very tightly. While we enjoy liberty and freedom, often times we forget that we are not free to abuse liberty, or to use our liberty to injure others. Chesterton spoke rightly to the idea of proper liberty.
To have a right to do a thing is fundamental in our thinking. As long as it is legal, we rally to the call of freedom and demand the right to do it. For example, we recoil at the thought of not being allowed to vote, but many American's simply don't vote. According to the Census Bureau, in 2008, 64% of Americans that were voting age actually went to the polls. Now, it is their right to vote, but not all did it; it is also their right NOT to vote. Whether that bothers you or not, is really not the issue.
What bothers me is the fact that we have liberty for so many good things that we do not do, that would only aid in helping others. Yet the liberties that we have that are an aid to no one but ourselves is often times used to the damage of others. That is a challenge for me almost daily.
In an attempt to "not offend" often times we should put legal liberties to the side. All too often, we think because it is our "right" to do something, others should understand our "liberty" and "get over it." When in actuality we should get over our demand to exercise a right, that will injure a brother in the process.
Yes, no matter how hard we try, we shall offend. Jesus reminded us of that. Surely offenses shall come He said. So we say, "see, there is just nothing we can do, we are going to offend no matter what!" But we forget that He went on to say, "Woe to him that causes the offense." (Matt. 18:7)
Discernment in our actions, coupled with genuine love for our brethren will cause us to make careful decisions about our liberty. What ever liberty you are certain is lawful, remember there are times for all things. ( Ecc. 3:1) And there are times that restraint is best. Discretion, it is said, is the better part of valor. Often, valor is lost in the midst of our practice of lawful liberty.