Gray Areas: When the Right Decision Isn’t Obvious
Sometimes we face difficult decisions that don’t seem to have clear-cut answers. How can we tell what God would want us to do in these gray areas?
Some decisions we face have clear black or white choices. We know immediately what the right and the wrong answer is. There isn’t a lot of room for waffling about whether it is okay to steal someone’s purse, commit adultery or kill someone who made us mad.
But some choices don’t seem so clear. Sometimes it’s not obvious which choice is right or wrong, wise or foolish.
Should you give money to the homeless person you pass? Will he just use it for alcohol?
If a friend invites you to a movie, should you go? How much do you need to know about the movie to decide? If there is a bad scene in the movie, should you walk out?
Some things can seem cloudy and gray. They don’t seem to be plainly addressed in the Bible.
These seemingly gray areas can be a problem, since our adversary the devil can use them against us. Satan would like the whole world to walk in a fog of confusion, without clarity on what to do and which way is right. This way he can lead people to making decisions based on their own thoughts.
God wants us to seek the answers in His law and to let His Word, the Bible, be a lamp to our feet—in other words, the basis for our decisions and direction in life.Questions to ask
So, what do we do when we come to a seemingly gray area in life? Here are a few things to consider:
Is it gray because I don’t want to see the light? (Consider John 3:19-21.)
Is it gray because I haven’t studied the Bible enough to see it clearly? (See Psalm 119:105.)
Is it gray because I haven’t meditated enough? (See Psalm 119:97-99.)
Is it gray because I haven’t sought wise counsel? (See Proverbs 11:14.)
Is it gray because it isn’t a moral issue? Sometimes either choice can be right. For example, what house or car to choose is not usually a moral issue.
Is it gray because it isn’t a wisdom issue? Sometimes the most perplexing decisions are when we are weighing two good options.
Getting the gray out
How can we reduce the number of gray areas we face? In addition to asking the questions above, we can do it by systematically shining God’s light on our lives. We should start with the big things—the things that God says are most important, such as:
- “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).
- “The weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy and faith” (Matthew 6:33).
- “And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Matthew 23:23).
- “Keeping the commandments of God is what matters” (Matthew 23:23).
Then we can work on progressively smaller things until everything in our life comes into clear focus. God has called us “out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9), and that light will help us get the gray areas out of our lives.
In essence, we’ll be asking ourselves, Would I engage in this activity if Jesus Christ was with me? When we are still undecided about whether something is right or wrong, then we should go with the way that we believe would be pleasing to God.
For more about decision making, see “Decision Making: Seven Steps for Making Good, Christian Choices.”