Summary: Describes questions that we can ask to deal with answering whether or not it is okay to do something.
Making Decisions and Getting Them Right
New Friendship Baptist Church
July 31, 2006
Being a minister, I get asked a number of questions that other people do not get asked. One of the questions I get asked the most, right behind “Will you say the blessing so we can eat?” is “Can I do this?” This is what I mean:
“Can I watch this movie even though it has a questionable scene in it?”
“Can I tithe on the net, or do I have to tithe on the gross?”
“Can I go to this party where I know there will be drinking?”
All of these questions really boil down to this, “How far can I go before God gets upset?” We all want to know where the line is drawn of acceptable behavior. We all want to figure out what is right, and what is wrong. So today I am going to give you a set of questions that you can ask in order to determine if something is right, or wrong. Now if you are taking notes, feel free to write these down, but know that they are all coming right out of the pages of the letter to the Corinthians.
Read 1 Cor 10:23-24.
There it is again. There is the statement that is counter-cultural. “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” The first question we must ask ourselves is this:
AM I THINKING OF OTHERS BEFORE MYSELF?
Let’s keep this passage in context. Over the last several chapters, Paul has taught on this already in his dealing of whether or not we should eat meat offered to idols. When asking if we are thinking of others, what we are really asking is: “Will it cause my weaker brother to stumble?” (1 Corinthians 8) “Will it hinder my sharing the gospel?” 1 Corinthians 9) Now we must also remember that Paul is not instructing Christians to become doormats. Too often when we attempt to do something counter-cultural, we ride the pendulum too far the other way. God does not want a church filled with co-dependent people whose very emotions are dependent on pleasing others. That is becoming dependent on others when we are to be dependent only upon God. When we are looking at others before ourselves, it is not to make them comfortable while we suffer. The question is one of drawing men and women to a closer and deeper relationship to God.
Now let’s go back to verse 23. (Read first half) Here we find the next question we should ask:
IS IT HELPFUL?
Now we have to be very careful here because we have an amazing ability to rationalize almost anything that we want for its “helpfulness.” We say, “That new car would be helpful for getting me to where I need to go,” when your present car can do it albeit not as stylishly. Or we say, “That new dishwasher will help me get done with the dishes faster so I have more time for prayer and meditation,” when the honest truth is we just don’t like washing dishes and we have to go in debt to buy the dishwasher. What does Paul mean when he states not all things are helpful? Again, pay attention to context. Immediately before this statement he has talked about Israel’s example in their relationship with God and the way they followed idols, went into sexual immorality, and grumbled and complained. He speaks that we cannot participate in the cup of Christ and the cup of the Destroyer at the same time. Then he immediately says, not all things are helpful. Paul wants us to understand that some things will help us participate with Christ, and some things will lead us to participate with the Destroyer. So maybe the question needs to be amended for our clarification. Maybe the question should read:
IS IT HELPFUL FOR DRAWING US TO CHRIST?
The writer of Hebrews continues with this thought. “…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, Heb 12:1 (ESV)” Notice there are two things that we should lay aside. One is sin. The other is every other weight. There are things in our lives that while in and of themselves they are not sinful, they are weighing us down, slowing us down from running as we should. Maybe its because we were trying to be “helpful” and said yes every time we were asked and now we serve on 25 committees. If you are doing all the work, then you are doing someone else’s work and you are not helping yourself or others to draw nearer to Christ.
The verse continues (read second half of vs. 23) There’s your next question: