There are issues we face where we can find clear guidance on how to respond in the bible, the black and white. But there also exist those in-between areas which are less clear, the grey areas. Those are more difficult to tackle. For example, the latest Netflix show has just been released. It seems everyone is talking about it – discussions on Twitter, blog posts, and even your colleagues at work are interested in this new show. Naturally, we want to find out more in case we are missing out. However, a trusted friend has advised us to avoid watching the show as they see the content as sinful. What do we do?
Although this example used a TV show, we can encounter similar dilemmas in relationships, socialising and other personal decisions. How do we tackle those areas in our faith?
Why do we want to engage?
So, the bible has not explicitly written about this particular issue nor does it instruct us not to watch this TV show or movie. However, it does state that we should think about whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, pure, lovely and so forth in Philippians 4:8. We must consider how that aligns with whatever activity we wish to engage in. A great way to do this, using the example of the TV show, is to read the synopsis. They are helpful, and easily accessible to explain the details of the show. Is watching or participating in this activity going to build us up in our faith or lead us down the path to sin?
All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things builds up.1 Corinthains 10:23
Although we are free to engage in all activities, within reason, there are those more damaging to our faith. It can be a task to identify what falls under lawful but not helpful or lawful but not edifying. Thankfully, to assist, we have the Holy Spirit, our Helper (John 15:16). We can make more informed choices on the grey areas, as we encounter them, with wisdom and discernment from the Spirit. “If we walk by the Spirit, we will not satisfy the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). When we are in alignment with the Spirit, the things of the flesh will become less appealing.
Additionally, we can seek godly counsel from people with a similar mindset of pursuing holiness and godliness, to discuss and ask further questions. An outside perspective is useful for challenging our worldview. We should also take time to discover the motives behind the choice we are making.
Do we have the right mindset?
For a few, tackling the grey areas in our faith may come with a logical strategy. Whereas some of us struggle to make distinctions on what is categorised as a grey area. That is perfectly normal for the Christian. We are working out our salvation while God is working in us (Phil 2:12). In their best interest, advice can be given which may seem appropriate and could be well-intentioned but how do we ensure it is right for us? Generally, if we think it is wrong, we should avoid it. Until the time we are confident as to our resolve whether in favour or against it. Paul echos this sentiment when he writes to the church in Romans:
But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sinRomans 14:23
If there is even an inkling of doubt that this could be wrong but we proceed anyway, it is sin. We can decide for ourselves with careful guidance through the Word and wisdom from the Holy Spirit. Overall, we should be more open to interrogating our choices and understand that the conviction will come from within. We should never pass judgement on another if they do not have the same convictions as us. We are not the standard, Christ is.
At the end of the day, we are seeking His Kingdom above all else. Whatever we do, [whether we choose to watch the show, drink the alcohol or attend the event], we must decide if we are doing it for the glory of God or self.