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Pointers along the way #147

Wrong while being right?
- Jacob Ninan

Many of us are used to asking ourselves, "Is this right or wrong?" concerning things we are thinking of doing. We may go further by asking ourselves what the Bible says about such things. Then when we find that something is not forbidden, we think it is all right, and go ahead to do it. The fundamental approach we are taking is, "Avoid doing wrong." This is fine as far as it goes. But it doesn't go far enough, actually, when we consider what God really expects from us and also how far we can go.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians in his first letter they were so insensitive that they couldn't even recognise that a man living with his father's (second?) wife was terribly wrong (1Co.5:1,2). But when he wrote to them again, after this man had been disciplined and come to repentance, he told them about a higher plane of life. This is to live for God, rather than merely to live in a way that avoids wrong (2Co.5:14,15). We are to be so controlled by the love of God that all our thoughts, words and actions are directed towards pleasing God, doing His will, and glorifying His name. When we move up to this plane, the question we ask ourselves is no longer, "Is this right or wrong?", but "Is this pleasing to the Lord? Is this what God wants me to do? Will this bring glory to the name of Jesus?" etc.

When we think about it this way, we can easily see that a lot of things that may be 'right' will also get discarded! This what Paul meant when he said that even when something may be legitimate or permissible according to the standard of right versus wrong, it may not be profitable or edifying (1Co.6:12;10:23). How foolish we are to stay at the kindergarten level of right and wrong when we can go on to higher classes that will bring us closer to the heart of God!

Another question we can ask ourselves is, "Will this give a good example for others to follow?" More and more people these days are only looking out for their own interests, and it is very challenging for us to take on the extra responsibility of caring for the impact our choices can have on others. Paul says, "Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor" and also, "Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification" (1Co.10:24;Ro.15:2). We don't want anyone to fall following our example, and we want others to be encouraged to follow godly ways (Ro.14:21;1Co.11:1).

Think of the way we spend our time, energy, money, etc. Couldn't we spend them in a more profitable way? If only we can stop pacifying ourselves by saying, "There is nothing wrong with this," and go on to operating in the higher plane of "Is this pleasing to the Lord? Is this what God wants me to do? Will this bring glory to the name of Jesus? Will this be a good example to the others?" etc., our lives will be much more exciting, satisfying and useful to God and man. Perhaps we will no longer spend time or money the way we have been doing so far.