I have had a few discussions lately with people that have struggled with the tension between law and grace. This is not a new question, and the Bible does have some things to say to us as we work out how to navigate through this tension.
There are many issues on which the Bible is silent or has little to say. It is on these issues that this tension seems to be felt. Questions such as, “can I go to bars as long as I don’t get drunk?”, “is it OK to gamble?”, “what about dancing?”, “can a church group have a poker night?”, come to mind.
In response, I came up with six questions to help determine the right course when thinking about a particular activity.
- Does the activity satisfy the Two Great Commands as found in Matthew 22:37-40? Does this activity demonstrate love for God and love for my fellow man? In John 13:3-5, we see Jesus washing the disciples’ feet as an example of how to love and serve others. The converse of this is an activity that is self-focused which ends up being hurtful to others.
- Will I avoid being a stumbling block to a believer by engaging in this activity? The Apostle Paul presents this principle in his discussion about meat which was sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians 10:23-24, 28. While we are free to do many things, some of those things might be a stumbling block to a weaker brother. We are not to have our freedom cause a weaker brother to stumble and perhaps fall into sin.
- Is it wise? We have freedom to do many things that wisdom tells us are not good for us or those around us. Look at 1 Corinthians 10:23 again. Not every activity is profitable. What is your goal and does this activity help you toward that goal?
- Is it a good use of my time and resources? This is the principle of stewardship as illustrated in the parable that Jesus tells in John 25:14-30. We will have to give an account to the Master as to how we spent our time on Earth. Would you want Jesus to participate with you in this activity?
- Is this activity consistent with who God has created me to be? Does this activity fit in with my calling? In Romans 12:1-8, Paul tells us that to be renewed in our thinking will result in service to the Body of Christ in humility. It is only through this renewal that we can discover what the will of God is for us and begin fulfilling our role in the Body.
- Does this activity help me fulfill the command to make disciples as found in Matthew 28:19? Would a non-believer be confused by knowing that I do this thing? This is similar to question #2 above. Our freedom should not be something that gives a non-believer an excuse to reject Christ.
This list is not exhaustive, but I do hope it is helpful. If you can answer “yes” to each of the questions above, then it is safe to say that activity is one to pursue.
Do you have any other principles that should be considered? Please comment below.