A lot of my counseling opportunities come when people struggle with how to live in the gray. They need to make a decision in an area that doesn't deal with a moral issue, or a principle that is clear from Scripture, and those are difficult decisions. 

Unfortunately, those types of decisions make up the majority of the decisions we make. I've already made several decisions since I woke up this morning at 5am. Most of them were not black and white decisions. The Bible didn't tell me whether to wear a green shirt, orange shirt, blue shirt, or red shirt (I opted for green so I could wear orange tomorrow). Cheerios vs. toast was not a moral decision. I could have taken a couple of routes to work this morning, and wouldn't have sinned in taking any of those routes, but I chose one and didn't think much about it. 

Other decisions aren't quite so cut and dry. Should we participate in an activity where some people might do something immoral, although we ourselves will abstain? Should I exercise my freedom in a specific area, even though others might be offended?

Although the Bible doesn't give clear principles for every situation we face it does give clear principles for being wise in the gray issues, and especially the gray issues that could become black and white. 

In 1 Corinthians 2:2, Paul reminded the Corinthians that their entire focus should revolve around one thing: "Jesus Christ and Him crucified." Then he spends the entire book helping them understand what that looks like. 

They should be careful when they fight in church, because divisions can be a distraction from Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 1-4). However, they should be quick to distance themselves from people who violate the black and white because those violations are a distraction from Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 5), though their distance should be handled internally so as not to cause a distraction from Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 6). The Corinthians were to have marriages that pointed to Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 7), and should avoid engaging their freedom in such a way that would confuse the message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 8-9), realizing from history that although everything might be permissible, "not everything is beneficial" for pointing to Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 10). Instead, public and private worship (1 Corinthians 11-14) should always point to our hope of resurrection (1 Corinthians 15) which has been made possible because of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 

How do you decide in the gray? A pretty simple (and scriptural) place to start is by asking the question, "Will this distract myself or someone else from the message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified?" 


Mark Hancock said...

Thanks, Chris, for the synopsis of Paul's thoughts on the "gray".

I think that, culturally, our rightful elevation of the Word, but ignorance of it, leads us to look for the black-and-white as a quick answer, rather than feeding and meditating on the principles.

Thanks for identifying some principles.

Grace and Peace,