Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
We live in a day and age when it’s impossible to do anything without it being politicized or criticized in one way or another. A big part of that is judgment imposed simply because of who one is either in political, religious, or other terms that don’t fit the mainstream of society. Yet we’re told to be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. Bill Mounce’s translation (click link) says we’re to give careful thought to such.
The directive might be tied to what precedes it, the imperative not to repay anyone evil for evil done to us. But there’s no connective in the Greek, which we would translate “but.” So we can’t be sure. But regardless, we can see that it applies across the board, whatever we’re up against.
This seems like a tall if not impossible order. After all, just the fact that we’re from different backgrounds culturally one way or another makes it nearly certain that someone is bound to misunderstand us along the way, and take what we’re doing in a way that’s not at all intended. And there’s the reality that if we seek to witness to the truth of the gospel or for something we consider right, there will always be those who disagree or oppose us. In their eyes what we’re doing won’t be good or right at all.
I think we have to accept the fact that this is not foolproof, nor even entirely possible. So with that qualification, we can attempt to do what is right in the sight of everyone, even while doing things which we know in and of themselves won’t be accepted by everyone as good and right in themselves. How we do something, the sensitivity used is surely something of what Paul might have been getting at here.
That no one would speak badly about what we do would be the goal. That at least they can see that we’ve made the attempt to come across in a way that’s acceptable, and even good and right. Whatever else they might think about what we’re about, let’s bend over backwards to not have them stumble over something we do which is neither good nor right. In and through Jesus.