Summary: Four practical questions to ask yourself when faced with a questionable situation.
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Our scripture passage this morning is not the sole basis of my message. However, it does lay a good foundation to begin our look at dealing with life’s gray areas.
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. – Daniel 1:8 NKJV
We must remember that Daniel was forced from his native land, and held in captivity in Babylon. One would think that being away from “home” that Daniel would be free to live anyway he chose. Instead, he purposed in his heart to live a life that would not cause the other Jews in captivity with him to stray from living the way God expected.
One thing that you will quickly find among Christians is that not everyone agrees on everything. I have actually heard about church splits because of the color of the carpet in the sanctuary. But along those lines, not all Christians agree on what is right and what is wrong. For one, the matter may be black and white, and to another it may be gray. One may feel that a person should not go to a certain place, whereas another sees nothing wrong with it. One may feel that doing a certain thing is wrong while another sees nothing wrong in doing it.
So what is right and wrong? This morning I want to present to you four questions that I hope will assist you in making that determination for yourself. The references to “it” in this case refers to activities, hobbies, habits and the like that may be a “gray area”.
1. Does it promote edification?
So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. – Romans 14:19 NLT
The word for edification in the Greek means “to build up; the act of one who promotes another’s growth in Christian wisdom, piety, happiness and holiness” (The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon – Strong’s number 3619).
In the context of our passage here, Paul is once again addressing the issue of “gray areas”.
For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God. And other people will approve of you, too. – Romans 14:17-18 NLT
In essence, don’t get wrapped up on the “gray area”. Instead, ask is this building or burning the Kingdom of God? Is what I’m doing contributing to unity among the saints, or is there a possibility it could divide it?
2. Can it lead to bondage (addiction)?
You may say, “I am allowed to do anything.” But I reply, “Not everything is good for you.” And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. – 1 Corinthians 6:12 NLT
Addiction could be captured in the statement, “when you want to say no, but can’t”.
I knew a guy when I was in Minot that told me, “I could never become a Christian.” When I inquired as to why, he said because there is no freedom. I’d have to give up this and that. I asked him if he was so free, then stop doing those activities that he felt we liberating. He looked at me with a disheartening look because he knew he couldn’t. So I asked him, “You’re not as free as you thought you where huh?”
Addiction is a physical and psychological dependence on a substance or behavior. It begins by using something to feel good. The addiction seems to "help" the person to avoid painful feelings (Arnot Ogden Medical Center). We look to things, substances or behaviors to make us feel good. This could be a emotional or physical need. But sadly, the thing that people turn to hoping to make them feel better often turns into bondage.
Remember from last week that we are to be enslaved to righteousness (Romans 6:18). So if the “gray area” could possibly place hooks in you that will bind you to itself, rather than allowing you to be bound to righteousness, maybe you should walk away from it.
3. Do you have any uneasy conscience about it?
The purpose of my instruction is that all the Christians there would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and sincere faith – 1 Timothy 1:5 NLT