What About Gray Areas Where the Bible is Not Specific?
Romans 14 is an excellent chapter for study in regard to making decisions concerning various issues not addressed in the Bible. Since most of what we do affects our relationships with others, study of this passage may help you reach a Christ-like decision that is best for you in your walk with the Lord, as well as your relationships with others.
Often it is easy to fall into the practice of passing judgment on those whose thinking does not line up with our own regarding a particular issue. Rather than pass judgment, we are to accept one another (Romans 14:1). Matters of the conscience–those not strictly addressed in the Bible–must be settled in relationship to God (14:4, 7-8, 12, 22). Our actions should not bring condemnation on us. We should be completely convinced in our own mind concerning our convictions. If we have heard God correctly, we will have a clear conscience. Pleasing God is the determining factor for a clear conscience, not the opinions of others. We are not to do anything without believing that it is right. Everything that does not proceed from faith is sin (verse 23).
We are, however, to guard our influence. Verses 13, 20, 21 say not to do anything that makes your brother stumble. Others are watching our walk as a Christian, therefore, it is important to keep in mind the higher law of love. The welfare of my brother is more important than my rights. Verse 16, 17 say, “Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The kingdom of God requires real righteousness, personal integrity, loving relationships with others, and a moral influence.
How do we resolve the conflict that may arise when we feel released by the Lord to exercise our freedom to participate in an activity while others feel just as strongly that such participation is unChristlike? How do we accept others and refrain from passing judgment, yet still guard our influence and not cause another to stumble? The answer is by imitating Christ. What did Christ do? Obviously, we will encounter situations in today’s society which Christ did not encounter, yet we can always look to Him as our example for every decision. Look at the first few verses of Romans 15. Jesus glorified the Father (15:5-7). He accepted others (15:7). He became a servant of others on behalf of God’s truth (15:8-12). When our life in relationship to others is in conflict, imitate Christ.
A good motto to follow is, “In essentials unity, in nonessentials liberty, in all things charity.” In Psalm 32:8, the Lord says that He will lead you and guide you in the way that you should go. You can be confident that He will make His will clear to you in this matter if you are diligently seeking Him. It is your responsibility to follow the leading of the Lord. Susannah Wesley said, “If anything hinders your relationship with God, for you it is sin.”
Our place is to listen to what God says and not worry whether God is dealing more or less strictly with a brother or sister in the Lord. Our job is to hear and obey, not to judge.
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