Navigating Through The Gray Areas Of Life
II Timothy 3:16-17 is as follows. “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The scriptures speak quite clearly to us in many areas of our lives. In equipping us for every good work, we are advised to not only avoid known acts of sin but are counseled by the following verse in James 4:17. “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” In addition, we are told in Romans 14:23 that “..everything that does not come from faith is sin.” If I have doubts about whether the Lord would want me to pursue an activity, then I had better avoid it altogether!
In pursuing the decisions of life, the Lord has not only given us His written word, but also guides us in several other ways. One of these is by the peace which He gives us in our heart about decisions we must make. Colossians 3:15 states, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Another method of instruction is found in Proverbs 15:22. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” The Holy Spirit also uses circumstances in our lives to direct our work for hIm. It was an illness that brought the Apostle Paul to the European continent under the direction of the Holy Spirit. “As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you.” (Galatians 4:13).
Whenever the word of God, our inner peace, the counsel of others and circumstances line up together we may safely proceed. If the other three line up and are opposed to the word of God, however, we can rest assured that we are going in the wrong direction, as was the case with Jonah! In addition to the above, there are three other scriptures which have been found helpful in navigating the gray areas of life. They are all found in I Corinthians, chapters six, eight, and ten.
The first of these is I Corinthians 6:12. “‘Everything is permissible for me’-but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible for me’-but I will not be mastered by anything.” Paul first states, and later repeats his statement, that “everything is permissible.” But Paul recognizes that his body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. His body is not his own. He is bought with a price. Therefore, he must ask the following questions. Will this activity, food, drink, hobby, relationship, etc, be beneficial to my spirit, my soul and my body? Will this food, drink, activity, hobby, etc, bring me under its eventual control? These are his questions and ours as well as we contemplate these areas in our life.
The second of these verses is found in I Corinthians 8:13. “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.” This verse answers the question. “How will my choice, my freedom to do, to eat, and to drink what I want effect others? If they see me doing these things which I am free to do, will it weaken their faith? Will my liberty become a stumbling block to others? The consideration that is implied in this verse should govern our lives regardless of who we are with or wherever we go. Our lives are an open book read by all. By keeping this reminder before us, we are likely to successfully navigate through this gray area.
The third verse is I Corinthians 10:31. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” To bring Him glory is to give an accurate appraisal of who He is. It is to reflect His prestige, His honor, His eminence. Whatever is done should increase His splendor, His magnificence, and His greatness. It is a tremendous thought that God may even be glorified by such a simple matter as eating and drinking, if done with the intent of glorifying Him. When Paul makes this comment, he deliberately begins with the very small things, which is where we must begin as well, if we are to do all for the glory of God. Our lives proceed from the small things. We cannot glorify Him in our business dealings if we do not glorify Him with all we do in our homes. We will not be able to glorify Him in public unless we glorify Him in our private lives. Paul says “do it all for the glory of God.” In order to do this we must seek His will constantly, and trust Him to live His life through us (Galatians 2:20)
II Timothy 3:17 assures us that His word is sufficient to thoroughly equip us for every good work. It is my prayer that these verses in I Corinthians may be used by the Holy Spirit in your lives to the end that your good works will be manifested to Him and to others.
In Christ, Richard Spann