God’s word meets us in real life where we face questions that require His direction. Here we find two examples of how to deal with complex matters.
Answer me quickly, O Lord!
My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me,
lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:7-8
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. First Corinthians 10:31-33
The Christian is called to glorify God, to make sacrifices to build up others, and to avoid being offensive or selfish so that many may be saved. With those purposes in view, even complex ethical decisions become more obvious.
We aren’t given the specific historical setting of Psalm 143, but it is clear that David is desperate. There is much honesty expressed in these Psalms. No room for denial here. The author feels he needs direction from God and he needs it fast. Apparently he had to make a decision by morning. This could be a prayer in the evening and David is praying that it will be clear to him by then as to which direction he should go.
The Corinthian believers also faced a dilemma. They wonder how to handle the touchy situation of food offered to idols. Some see it as a non-issue and have freedom to eat that food with no qualms. Others are troubled by the idea of eating this food that was offered to demons. Paul is clear that there is really no problem in eating the food, but there is a problem of causing a brother to stumble. He gives the readers of his letter some very simple, clear and practical guidelines as to when to eat and when not to eat.
Think about it
Let’s put these guidelines into the form of questions to ask when making complex, ethical decisions: How can I best glorify God? How can I be helpful and build others up? How can I avoid offending so that an unbeliever is more able to find his way to salvation? Have I prayed to God for wisdom and waited for a sense of clarity on the matter? Consider how you can apply these questions to the difficult decisions you must make.