“Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
1 Thessalonians 5:22
This is a tough verse for me. First, it is not talking about abstaining from evil, which is difficult enough, but from the very appearance of evil.
This can be quite subjective as well.
What we call “cussing” is socially constructed (outside of taking the Lord’s name in vain). However, a Christian who uses such colorful language appears to others to be sinning, so we must avoid doing it.
Some Christians go as far as avoiding restaurants that serve alcohol or theaters that show R rated films. They believe that if someone sees them in these places, they might appear to be sinning, even if they are just enjoying a cheeseburger or watching an actual Christian film.
Knowing what appears to be evil in your eyes and the eyes of others is a daunting task, but one that is worthwhile so that we do not cause our brothers and sisters to stumble.
I pray that I do better to not only do better at abstaining from evil, but from the appearance of it as well.