A young man came to the late Bible teacher J. Vernon McGee and said, “Dr. McGee, I have been studying predestination, and I am so convinced of the sovereignty of God that I believe if I stood in the middle of a busy highway, and my hour was not yet come, God would and could spare my life.” Dr. McGee, responding with his characteristic wit, said, “Son, if you stand in the middle of a busy highway, your hour has come.”
God’s sovereignty over our lives does not cancel out our responsibility to exercise good judgment in our decisions—decisions that rush at us like oncoming traffic! How do we exercise good judgment in our decisions? Not every decision in life is easy, but it can be made easier by following a series of principles that Paul outlines in his first letter to the Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 8–10 especially, we find Paul instructing the Corinthians how to make decisions in matters of conscience where there is no clear prohibition or permission from the Lord. The principles he teaches are applicable to many situations and help make the hard decisions easy.
EXPEDIENCE: Will it be spiritually beneficial (1 Cor. 6:12; 10:23)? There are many things the Christian can do that are not wrong, but are they spiritually enriching? Are they the best use of our time? Are they the best use of our powers and gifts?
EDIFICATION: Will it build me up (1 Cor. 10:23; 14:26)? Before taking to a certain path in life, we need to be sure that it will not work against our faith in Christ. Whatever we add to our lives must not subtract from our faith, its stability and strength.
EXAMPLE: Will it help or hinder other Christians (1 Cor. 8:9–13)? Any choice we make must bear others in mind. Our freedoms were not given to make us autonomous. We are given liberty in Christ in order to be the servants of others, not in order to indulge our own preferences. We must, therefore, be self-limiting in our choices.
ENSLAVEMENT: Will this pursuit control me (1 Cor. 6:12)? Given Christ’s unrivaled lordship over our lives and our own calling to be rulers over the earth, we must not be mastered by anything in any choice that we make. Our choices must not be allowed to make a prisoner out of us.
EXALTATION: Will this activity glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31)? Man’s sole purpose is to glorify God. Therefore, we have no choice but to do that which best glorifies God. We have no choice, really, but God gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him.