Determine this–not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.
There are three questions you should ask yourself before you engage in any activity that is a gray area in the Bible.
Question number one: “Do I have any doubt that this is right?” Before you drink that wine, before you participate in that dance, before you go to that movie or whatever it is, ask yourself, “Is there anything inside me that says this isn’t right?” If so, Paul said, don’t do it. Romans 14:5 says, “Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.” Why shouldn’t you do it if you have any doubt at all? Because it means you are violating your conscience. The conscience is an internal warning system that God places in every Christian. Not every person’s conscience is the same. It is a very personalized instrument. God knows us so well that He knows where we should go and where we should not go. And whenever we start toward a behavior that is going to hurt us or hurt somebody we influence, a little warning starts going off. It is a caution to us: We don’t need to go there. Not because it is absolutely immoral and wrong, but because it is wrong for us. When you violate your conscience, you can harden your conscience to the point that you can’t feel anything any longer. Your guidance system doesn’t work any longer. That is why it is important not to violate your conscience. If it is wrong for you, then it is wrong.
Question number two: “Can I thank God for this activity?” Romans 14:6 says, “He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.” Paul was saying, “Before you indulge in this activity, ask yourself, ‘Is this something I can sincerely thank God for?’” Before you lift that glass of wine, before you participate in this activity, before you listen to that CD, before you go to that movie–can you say, “God, thank You so much for bringing this into my life?” If you cannot thank God for it honestly, then you should not do it.
Question number three: “Will I be embarrassed by this at the judgment seat of Christ?” Knowing that one day God is going to evaluate your life–every part of it–is this something you are going to be embarrassed to have on your life’s record?
Paul’s point in Romans 14:1-13 was this: Quit judging other Christians with whom you disagree. Just because those people don’t agree with you doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong. It is critical that Christians learn how to respect the opinions of other Christians with whom they disagree when it comes to issues that are not related to salvation. If you have your list of dos and don’ts, that’s great. Everybody ought to have their own list of what they will do and what they won’t do. Keep your list, and live by your list, but please keep your list to yourself.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Drinking, Dancing, And Doubtful Things” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.