When uncertain about what pleases God in areas not specifically addressed in Scripture, consider the 10 principles below.
1. Glorifying God
- Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 10:31; 1 Thessalonians 2:12
- Questions: Would this behavior/practice dishonor God?
2. Loving others:
- Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 8:1, 9-13; Romans 14:13-21; Galatians 5:13
- Questions: How will this behavior/practice affect others? Will this provide a proper Christian example?
3. Eliminating excess:
- Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Philippians 3:13; Hebrews 12:1
- Question: Will this hinder me in living an effective Christian life?
4. Attaining excellence:
- Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 6:12; 10:23; Ephesians 5:16; Philippians 1:9-11
- Questions: Is this activity useful toward my Christian growth? It may not be wrong, but is it really useful and profitable? Will this be an unproductive waste of time?
5. Avoiding wrongful alliances:
- Scriptures: 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 1 Cor. 7:39; Psalm 1:1-3; Proverbs 13:20; 22:24-25
- Questions: Will this association bring harmful influence in my life? Am I pursuing inappropriate solidarity with those who do not walk with God? Am I entering into a relationship that could cause me to commit myself to believe or practice something that is not pleasing to God?
6. Keeping a clear conscience:
- Scriptures: Romans 14:5; 14:22-23; 1 Corinthians 8:7
- Question: Am I hurting my conscience in its current condition?
7. Aspiring to Christlikeness:
- Scriptures: Romans 8:28-29a;1 John 2:6
- Question: Is this consistent with all I know about Jesus Christ?
8. Maintaining purity:
- Scriptures: Matthew 5:27-30;Romans 13:14;Philippians 4:8;1 Peter 2:11, 16;Galatians 5:13
- Questions: Will this activity become a source for sin? Am I allowing myself to be open to temptation?
9. Prioritizing the Gospel:
- Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:23
- Question: Will this activity hinder or help my effectiveness as a witness for Christ?
10. Listening to Leadership:
- Scriptures: Hebrews 13:17;1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
- Questions: Is what I am doing in conflict with the membership or service covenants of my Church? Am I respecting the leaders God has placed in my life and seeking guidance from them?
How to apply these principles
The application of these principles requires personal honesty and humility. God knows our hearts and He knows what is best (1 Samuel 16:7; Hebrews 4:13; Philippians 1:9-11). Our service for God should be motivated by love for God and others as we make every effort to do what pleases Him in all things (Matthew 22:37; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; Colossians 3:23).
However, we must be careful not to treat our conclusions on debatable matters as morally binding upon all who desire to please God. Those who do this are guilty of legalism (see: Romans 14:3).
Do not use this list to judge others. Use it for yourself and as a means of advising others when they invite your counsel.
Church leaders must be examples of wise and measured application of these principles both personally and in ministries of teaching and oversight.
See also: Are you a judgmental Christian?