Good-Grace Decision-Making

Good-Grace Decision-Making

Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
–Philippians 2:4

It is time for a quiz. Do not worry; you have a 50 percent chance of getting these right. Ready?

  1. 1. It is best for Christians not to shop on Sundays: True or false?
  2. Christian parents should discourage their children from celebrating Halloween: True or false?
  3. Christian schools are preferable to public schools: True or false?
  4. Hymns are usually more worshipful than contemporary Christian music: True or false?
  5. Christians should abstain from any alcoholic beverage: True or false?

All those questions deal with what we call the gray areas of Christian living–issues about which the Bible gives no specific commands. Does grace give me a license to thumb my nose at those who decry drinking, dancing, and reading Harry Potter novels? What role does grace play in the decisions I make in my everyday life?

There are two equally dangerous perversions of the doctrine of grace: legalism and libertarianism. When it comes to the gray issues of the Christian life, the legalist says, “There are no gray areas. If you study the Bible hard enough, you can know what it says about every area of life.” And the biblical answers always happen to coincide with the legalist’s personal opinions. A legalist has a deep-seated conviction about each of these issues, but he wants to make his conviction automatically your obligation.

On the other hand, the libertarian says, “Every issue is a gray area. There are no one-answer-fits-all decisions.” The libertarian especially refuses to allow the opinions of others to have any impact on what he chooses to do. He will say things like, “I serve Christ; I do not serve other people,” or, “I have grown in my faith to a position where I have the freedom to do this, and maybe if you become more mature like I am, you will have that freedom as well.”

Paul rejected legalism–he had no use for man-made systems of conduct that apply to everybody. But he also rejected the libertarian idea that we are free to do whatever we want regardless of how it affects other people. A proper understanding of grace says our freedom in Christ has limits. Whether or not we should do something depends not only on how it would affect ourselves and our relationship with God but also on how it would affect other people.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Good-Grace Decision-Making” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org