We all have those times when we are faced with circumstances that require us to make a tough choice.
Prayerfully we seek God in prayer and His word to guide our decisions and with much confidence know that the word of God is a great source of truth and instruction for everything we go through.
But what about the questions that the Bible does not answer specifically? What about the choices you face where there is no scripture that specifically says:
YES YOU CAN or NO YOU CANNOT! YES, THIS IS RIGHT or NO, THIS IS WRONG!
What do you do? Isn’t the Bible supposed to provide guidance in every area? Didn’t an Omniscient (all-knowing) God know you would be presented with this tough choice and need direction from Him?
Well yes, God did and He has provided an answer in His word. But what we have to remember about God is that among the many things He is to us, He is a parent and a teacher. And if we think about it in the natural, aren’t we, as human parents, both parent and teacher? So as a result, there are some things we give our children specific direction on and there are other things that we give them general direction on. And why? Because the good parent knows that you limit the potential of your child’s ability to think critically, grow, develop, and find themselves if you give them all the answers to all their questions.
Likewise, God as the perfect parent does not want to cripple our ability to think critically, grow, develop and find ourselves. And so, when we do not have the exact answer, it provokes us to work, to pray, to research, to study God’s word, to seek Him, to think harder, to prayer longer, to consider our course of action and its outcome. All these things build you up and grow you up!
One of the things that makes me most proud as a parent is when my children ask me a question for which I don’t give them an exact answer, but some wise suggestions and they take it and put in the work to come to a successful conclusion. Any child can do exactly what you tell them and get it right, which is a good thing. But the child that comes to the right decision on their own is a great thing. Because as parents we know that we cannot always be there and so we want to know that they can make a right choice even in our absence.
With all that said, while the Bible doesn’t give us specific answers or instruction on certain matters, it does give us some general principles that we can measure our potential decisions against to come to a right decision that will be pleasing to God and beneficial to us and the circumstances that we face.
Many years ago, I begin to measure my own decisions by the following scriptures, when I couldn’t find a specific Bible verse for my situation. My rule of thumb was, if I can answer yes, to all of these scriptures, then I could proceed. However, if the answer is “NO” to just one, then I couldn’t proceed. Now, let me caution you, lest you think I’m some super Christian or something, I said that’s been my general rule.
The truth is, I didn’t always follow that rule and I’m so grateful for God’s grace and mercy. Because as I look back over my life, the times that I followed that rule, things worked out for the better and the times that I didn’t… well let’s just say, “If it had not been for the Lord who was on my side, where would I be!!!”
Anyway, here are the questions:
1. Will the course considered lead a fellow Christian to sin by your example? (1 Cor. 8:9)
· Ok, so many times we want to do something, for example drink an alcoholic beverage, or go to a casino and contrary to what some teach, the Bible does not specifically say you CANNOT do these things. Unfortunately, due to lazy and/or control preaching, many have been made to believe that these things are wrong, sinful, etc. Now I’m not saying this because I’m advocating drinking or gambling since I never struggled with either. But I’m saying this because we have to stop trying to control people by adding to the word of God. The word of God can do its job all by itself.
· Ok, so now that my rant is out the way, what does the Bible say about drinking? Ephesians 5:18 says, “Do not be drunk with wine.” and what does the Bible say about gambling? Well honestly, it really doesn’t say anything specific about gambling, but it does warn us to stay clear from the love of money (1 Tim. 6:10, Heb. 13:5) as well as to not try to “get rich quick” (Prov. 13:11, 23:5, Ecc. 5:10).
· So how do you employ the scripture? If you’re like me and drinking and gambling is not your thing. GREAT! Have a drink as long as you don’t get drunk, but if you are in the company of another, who is not where you are and have the propensity to not just have one cup, will your example lead them to drunkenness?
· I know, I know, “You’re not your brother’s keeper” right? Well yes you are! Jesus said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” Matt 22:39 – See when you love the next person as yourself, you don’t do things in front of them that can lead them to sin. I know you can drink and not get drunk, but if you know your brother’s 1 drink will turn into 2, 3, 4, 10 and the next thing you know, they are a drunken mess, Love says I’m not going to let “This liberty of mine be a stumbling block to my brother who is weak” (1 Cor 8:9 “But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.)
2. Will the action provide strength and encouragement to your own life? (1 Cor. 6:12, 10:23) “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful.” Ok so what is the Bible saying right here. Let’s just use our example of drinking or gambling for example. Let’s say your answer above was “Yes.” Yes, I can drink and not get drunk. Yes, I can drink and I’m not being a bad example to someone else that may drink and get drunk. Ok, so then drinking is ok. Right? Well the next thing is this: just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should do it. The Bible says, just because its lawful to me (meaning permitted) doesn’t mean its helpful to me (meaning purposeful). How does drinking help you to fulfill your purpose? How does gambling help fulfill your purpose? Ok, maybe your purpose doesn’t matter. How about this, every drink or lottery ticket you buy, even if it’s in moderation, is money out of your pocket that could be going to support your purpose. Think about it.
3. Will the action ultimately glorify God? (1 Cor. 10:31) Ok, but what if, even after all that, you conclude that, you can drink and gamble responsibly, you are not being a bad influence on anyone else, and you are not drinking and gambling enough to interfere with the purpose and plans for your life. My next question is, ok, but Does it glorify God? 1 Cor. 10:31 says, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
See, like I said, before, its easy to put on face in public, but its what you do in privacy that counts. It’s in your private time that you need to ask yourself, “Will this decision lead someone astray? Will this decision be helpful to me? Will this decision glorify God?
Oh, please don’t read this blog and make it all about drinking and gambling. I just simply used them as examples. After all the Bible doesn’t say “you can’t eat fried chicken” but we know what too much fried chicken can do!
This is a suggested template that can be helpful for any decision that you have to make where the Bible doesn’t specifically say yes or no. Now where the Bible is specific and clear, you don’t need this model. Just do what the Bible says. God knew which areas to tell you outright Yes or NO!!! and which areas to allow you room to GROW! Just like we as parents know with our kids. It’s just some things you say NO! point blank, period and I’m not explaining why! But there are other things you give them freedom and flexibility to take your advice and exercise their own judgement.
I pray today that you feel better equipped and encouraged to make wise decisions.