There are some matters on which the Bible doesn’t give specific teaching. They may include areas like entertainment, hobbies, relationships, appearance and clothes, humour, language, aspects of food and drink etc. How do we decide on these matters? Below we give some biblical guidelines for you to use. But first two preliminary questions:
How determined are you to be all out in obedience to Christ? Read Luke 9:57-62; 14:25-33. Jesus says in John 7:17 that only those determined to obey God will recognise the truth of His teaching. Are you prepared to shed anything which won’t help you to follow Christ or is doubtful?
What does the Bible say specifically on the subject in question? Find out using a Concordance (dictionary of Bible words) or other helpful literature or consult a leader.
Here are some questions to ask prayerfully with complete honesty and heartsearching:
Will it bring Glory to God?
1 Cor.10:31 “…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Will it really please and honour the Lord?
Will it help my Christian life, witness and service?
1 Cor.10:23 “Everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible’ – but not everything is constructive,” It may not be evil in itself but will it really benefit your relationship with the Lord and make you more effective in witness and service. Some relationships, pleasures and activities are not evil in themselves but are “weights” slowing you down spiritually, “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” 2 Tim. 2:22
Does it tend to become an addiction?
1 Cor. 6:12 “… Everything is permissible for me’- but I will not be mastered by anything.” God intends us to be self-controlled. Apparently innocent things like reading non-Christian books or watching harmless TV can sometimes become an addiction taking up time for prayer, Christian fellowship and service.
Will it strengthen me or weaken me in temptation?
We pray “lead us not into temptation” (Matt.6:13) but do we lead ourselves into temptation? Paul says, “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction.” (Gal.6:8) “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. “Eph.5:3-4.
Does it lead me to an unhelpful association with the world?
The New Testament sometimes uses “world” in a positive way but on other occasions it uses it referring to the world as alienated from and antagonistic towards God. So John writes: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does comes not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2:15-16) See also 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1.
Am I really absolutely sure in my heart this thing is right?
Would I feel happy to involve Jesus in it? Rom.l4:23 uses the example of questions about food. “.. the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”
Should I avoid it for the benefit of others?
“Love does no harm to its neighbour.” (Rom.13:10) “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall” (Rom.l4:21). “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbour for his good to build him up.” (Rom 15:2). “Be careful … that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak”., (1 Cor.8:9). See also 1 Cor,8:10-13, 9:12, Eph.4:3.
Is it a wise use of my time money and energy?
1 Cor.6:19-20 “…You are not your own, you were bought with a price. Therefore honour God with your body.” Eph.5:l5-l6 “Be careful then how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
The individual Christian must make up his own mind before God on secondary issues in the light of these principles. (Rom. 14:5; Col. 2:l6). He is accountable to God (Rom.l4: 4, 12). However we need to avoid judgmental attitudes about the decisions other Christians make on secondary issues (Rom 14: 3-4; 1 Cor. 13:7).
© Tony Higton: see conditions for reproduction