Can I? Could I? Should I?

Studies in First Corinthians – XVI

In a world of increasing darkness and an ever widening gulf between the holiness of God and the wickedness of mankind, it can be difficult for the Christian to know where to draw the line. Of course, the line should not move further from God as the world does. Certainly there must be some principles that we can follow as we make decisions. In the second part of chapter ten, Paul gives us three guidelines for making these decisions motivated by our love for God and others.

1. Live Sacrificially for Others

“Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth” (10:24).

Paul wasn’t suggesting we steal each other’s money. He was teaching that we should all live sacrificially for other people. Because of love, the child of God will be careful to do nothing that would hinder another. His first concern is the spiritual wealth of that person. In every setting: at home, at church, on the job, in school, he is seeking the spiritual benefit of others.

2. Live in Separation Unto God

“What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils” (10:19-21).

Paul makes here an important distinction: our fellowship is at Calvary, but our contact must be with the world. Our fellowship is with Jesus, but our friendship is for those who do not know the Savior. In other words, Paul distinguishes between our associations and our fellowship. We associate with unsaved people as we move throughout this world, but we fellowship with the LORD and the body of Christ at Calvary.

It is impossible to belong to Christ and live in the enemy’s camp. Absolute separation unto God is demanded, but remember that separation is not isolation. Separation is contact without contamination. We are to move among the lost, talk with them, work with them, play with them – but always maintain the standard of Christian living.

3. The Glory of God is Our Purpose in Everything

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (10:31).

Paul was not suggesting we can make up our mind about the righteousness of an action and, whatever we decide, do it for the glory of God. He was teaching that we should ONLY do that which we CAN do to the glory of God. If an action or decision goes against the Word of God or the Spirit of God, it cannot be for His glory.

Ask yourself these three questions when you need to make a decision:

1. Will it be a stumbling block to others? If the answer is yes, your love for others should stop you.

2. Can God bless this action? If you can’t expect Him to bless it, then don’t do it.

3. Can I do this for the glory of God? In not, then have no part of it.

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Decisions, Decisions

We are a generation that hates to make decisions. We even have apps to help us make our decisions; where to eat, who to follow, and what music to like. When it comes right down to it, we don’t like to decide between this and that because we are convinced that we can have both. Like the child in Subway, we want the chips and the cookies and if we don’t get them both, you better watch out! Or like the one who calls herself a Christian, we want the blessings of God and the pleasures of this world and why shouldn’t we be able to have both?

Rev. Art Hodges tweeted last week, “Worship is exclusive. YOU must make a choice!” Elijah said the same thing a few thousand years ago, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!”

Photo by katietower

You must decide!

The word decision stems from the Latin word decidere, which means “to cut off.” Decisions don’t carry the same weight as they used to. Our culture treats decisions like test-runs. Two people ‘decide’ to marry but give up when life isn’t a fairytale anymore. A young person ‘decides’ to volunteer in a soup kitchen but quits after a few months when he realizes that his friends are out enjoying themselves while he serves up dinner to the same weary faces. Decisions just don’t carry the permanence which their name suggests.

One of my favorite poems is Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken. If you are familiar with the poem, the line that sticks out in your head is probably

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

And while the theme of taking the less traveled road is dominant in this poem, it is not the major theme. Mr. Frost was describing the difficult decisions that we all must make and he conveyed that when the decision is made, we will never return to try the other option.

“Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.”

The title of the poem makes this abundantly clear. He did not title the poem The Road Less Traveled By as it is often mistakenly called. He titled the poem The Road Not Taken. It was the choice that he cut off. He made a decision.

We must also decide.

As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.