This morning we're going to talk about the topic of Christian recreation.
- 1 Corinthians 10:31-32
Here is the fundamental rule – that in all of our Christian conduct – all that we do should aim at the glory of God and the good of others, and especially the welfare of the church of God.
This would certainly apply to every aspect of our lives. But, today we're going to focus on the area of our recreation.
Have you ever had to decide about some form of recreation in which you wanted to participate? Did you merely go along with the crowd? Or did you make your decision in the quietness of your own conscience?
“Recreation” is just another way of saying “re-creation.”
When work has made your body tired, and the cares of life have made your soul weary – re-creation is necessary. There must be a clear distinction between recreation and dissipation.
Dissipation refers to wasteful or thoughtless spending or activity. It can also mean a life of indulgence, in which health and wealth are squandered in the pursuit of pleasure. As Christians, certainly, there are times when we need to relax, times of rejoicing, and times of just resting.
Recreation renews physical strength and rebuilds tired nerves. But, dissipation tears down the body and destroys the moral structure of the character.
We read about Jesus taking time for recreation. When a busy day of teaching and healing would sap their energy Jesus would say to His disciples, “Come …rest a while.” We see him at wedding feasts, and banquets. Often, He would steal away from the multitudes to think, pray, and relax.
At times, we see Him at a wedding feast or a banquet. He evidently enjoyed the visits He had in the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany. Thus, we can see that recreation within itself is not evil.
You don't have to wear a frown or have a long face to be a Christian, for the Christian life is one of joy and rejoicing.
- Philippians 4:4
There are certainly times when we should rejoice.
How Shall I Choose My Recreation?
How do we discern what is right and good to do?
Since recreation is not always evil but maybe a good thing, proper and healthful, we must find the basis for discerning between the proper and the improper, between the good and the evil.
We must apply these principles to any decision we might make.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:21
How can a Christian tell right from wrong?
The word, prove, means to put it to the test. We are to put it to the scriptural test. We need to look to God's Word to determine what is right or wrong.
You may say, “That is easy; just go to the Bible.”
But it is not that simple. The Bible often merely gives us a principle on which to make necessary distinctions. It does not always deal specifically with every question we might ask regarding recreation.
We need to take the principles found in scripture and give them the proper application for the decision we are to make.
All human activities must be divided into two classes.
The first class is things that are sinful within themselves.
- Galatians 5:19-21
These things, there is never a reason to do them, the cannot be justified.
The second class is things that are not necessarily sinful within themselves. Yet may become sinful under some circumstances. They may become things that come between our relationship with God. The real problem for a Christian in recreation lies in dealing with this second group of activities that may not appear wrong within themselves.
Let us put these things that do not appear wrong to a series of critical and scriptural tests.
Nine Scriptural Tests of Recreation
We're going to look at nine ways that we can determine how to decide on what is right to do.
1) Will this action hurt my conscience?
- Romans 14:23
“He that doubteth is damned if he eat…”
Not so much for the act, but for eating before he is convinced that it is right. If a person has any doubt about a thing being right, he should not engage in it.
“Because he eateth not of faith…” Without being fully persuaded in his own mind that it is right.
“For whatsoever is not of faith is sin…”
The conscience is not always a safe guide, but if a Christian does something without being fully persuaded that it is right, he sins. Why? Because he violates his conscience. Although the conscience is not a safe guide, yet it must not be violated.
Conscience is a creature of education, but if we abuse it, it cannot help us to do right when we learn what is right.
2) Will this Action Harm My Body?
Remember that our bodies belong to God.
- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Things like drinking, smoking, drugs, certain physical activities are harmful to our bodies. We have our bodies only in stewardship for a few years, and so we are to use them as instruments to glorify God and serve in His kingdom.
If a Christian abuses his body, the day will come when his ability to use it will be limited.
Remember that we are stewards of our bodies.
- 1 Corinthians 4:2
We should not do those things which bring direct harm to our physical bodies.
3) Does it Appeal to the Indecent Within Me?
This principle indicates how the world reaches out to us; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. So we are to ask ourselves does it appeal to that which is indecent within me?
- Philippians 4:8
If we will follow the exhortation here given in determining between the decent and the indecent, we shall be able to make the right choice.
If a form of pleasure should lead to the arousal of evil thoughts and desires, then a Christian should forsake that pleasure as wrong and sinful.
This certainly comes into account with those things we watch on TV and our streaming devices for example; “racy” shows, movies, and entertainment.
Also, things like dancing, which show lascivious behaviors and lead to
Another example is activities such as making out, kissing, and touching. It may include kissing, embracing, or caressing any part of the body of the opposite sex, to get sexual stimulation or excitement.
Many who engage in this find themselves desiring to go beyond what is right and pure. Don't squander sex at such a low level. Denial now means something later on. Marriage is worth waiting for.
Until you gain self-mastery you will drag a ball and chain through life. You will be enslaved to urges. Marriage is worth waiting for.
Does watching certain things, or engaging in certain behaviors, lead us to think about what is indecent within us.
4) Will this Action Harm Others?
More than any other people Christians realize that “none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.”
- Romans 14:7
Therefore, before engaging in some form of questionable recreation, we should ask, “What effect will this have on those who are non-Christians?”
People are not converted solely by proving what is the right doctrine. Our manner of life has a mighty impact upon people.
It's one thing to show them the truth in the gospel. But, we can make a greater impact by showing them the gospel in the way that we live.
- 1 Timothy 4:16
“What effect will this have on those who are Christians?’ Not only do we continue to teach them the gospel but we show them the gospel in the way in which we live.
If you show yourself in a way that is different from the world, what impact might you have on their soul?
An act upon our part may become a sin if it causes a weak brother to stumble.
- 1 Corinthians 8:9-13
In this case, he's referring to the eating of meat? Does eating the meat cause sin? Not necessarily, but if eating the meat causes a brother to doubt, and in so causes them to sin, we should abstain from meat.
We have to be aware of what we do that may cause our brethren to stumble.
5) Will this Action Hinder My Influence?
- Matthew 5:16
Every person has some kind of influence.
- Romans 14:7
It is something that you cannot lose or run away from. It clings closer to you than anything you possess. It is something that cannot be destroyed.
It is like matter, it can be transformed from one kind to another, but it cannot be destroyed. Your influence is something that lives on even after you are dead.
- Hebrews 11:4
- Revelation 14:13
Even after we're gone, our influence will linger on.
The Bridge Builder
An old man going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
Through which was flowing a sullen tide
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at evening tide?”
The builder lifted his old gray head;
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followed after me to-day
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”
— by Will Allen Dromgoole
Our influence lingers on long after we've passed. If something I'm doing becomes a bad influence on others, then I must abstain from it.
6) Will This Action Take Me Among Evil Companions?
We're around others all the time. We must be aware of the companions we are engaged with. Such things as recreation, going out to eat, or sporting events, with others, who are not living righteous, will may us to our downfall.
- 1 Corinthians 15:33
(ASV) "Evil companionships corrupt good morals."
(ESV) “Bad company ruins good morals.”
(NKJV) “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
You cannot find pleasure among the wicked and remain pure any more than you can take fire into my bosom and not be burned thereby.
- Proverbs 6:27
It's a rhetorical question. You can't spend all of your time with evil and not harm yourself.
- Psalms 1:1
You may walk by a place of sin without harming yourself, but if you continue to do this you may then stop and stand to look on with interest. But if you do this, you are soon likely to go in and sit “in the seat of the scornful.”
We must ask ourselves, will this activity take me along with evil companions who will have a greater impact on my soul?
7) Does this Action Interfere with My Friendship with God?
We are careful not to offend a friend. We will forego anything that might be offensive to him. We are friends with God.
- 1 John 1:3
I would rather lose all my other friends than to lose God's friendship. I cannot be a friend of the world and a friend of God at the same time.
- James 4:4
8) Would Jesus Do This?
Can you imagine Jesus doing the activity?
- Hebrews 4:15
When you know a person very well, you can often be quite certain about what he would do or think about a matter.
So, it is with Christians and Christ —the better we know Him, His life, and teaching, the better we can decide the right or wrong of a thing by asking, “What would Jesus do?”
If deep in your heart you are persuaded that He would not indulge, then it is probably wrong, and the safe thing for you to do is to refrain from doing it. It will help up to remember that the Lord is always watching us, and He knows our every action.
- Psalms 33:13
- Psalms 139:1-4
- Hebrews 4:13
Certainly, reflection upon these passages will help you to decide whether a course of action is right or wrong.
Like the hymn we often sing, Anywhere with Jesus.
“Anywhere with Jesus I can safely go; Anywhere He leads me in this world below; Anywhere without Him, dearest joys would fade; Anywhere with Jesus, I am not afraid.” — Jessie Brown Pounds (1887)
If Jesus would go there, certainly I could as well. But, if He would not, we certainly should abstain from it.
9) How Does this Course of Action Seem After I Have Prayed About It?
- Philippians 4:6
The very thought of prayer would stop some actions. Any matter that the Christian cannot pray about should be forgotten. Prayer not only strengthens the soul, but it brings the realities of life into a sharper focus.
A clever, but off-color business practice may seem unquestionable in the everyday business procedure, but in prayer, the Christian may find it to be entirely different. To hold it up in the frame of eternity it then takes on a different perspective.
What seems good in temporal affairs may look much different when thrown against the backdrop of eternity.
Do we need to ask ourselves how would it seem after I've prayed about it?
I challenge you to apply these tests to many common activities and forms of recreation.
- Dancing - Lascivious form of dancing that takes place at drunken parties, raves. Dance clubs and even HS dances or with modern cheer squads.
- Movies, TV shows, Video Games – Sex, Filthy Language, Nudity, etc…
- Going to the beach – even if you’re dressed modestly, but what the people around you leaving little to the imagination?
- Hunting / fishing / outdoor activities
Any of these activities could interfere with our relationship with God. We need to ask ourselves these nine principles when we are determining what is right and good to do.
In all sincerity and honesty ask yourself:
Do any of these things hurt my conscience?
Do they harm my body? Not just a physical strain on the body, but there is a greater hurt that causes an emotional strain. Maybe sexual tension.
Does a movie /video or other activity appeal to the indecent in me? Such as lascivious dancing, immodesty depictions of sex appeal to the lust of the flesh, do they cause me to have indecent thoughts?
Can my recreational activities harm others? Will it lead them into temptation?
Will it hinder my influence? Does it destroy my personal influence?
Does it take me along with evil companions?
- Romans 12:2
- 1 John 2:15
Does it interfere with my friendship with God?
- James 4:4
Maybe the recreation itself has nothing wrong with it, but it causes me to forsake the assembly.
Ask yourself if Jesus were here...
- would He go someplace for recreation where people were twerking, grinding, cussing, drinking, or dressing immodestly?
- would He sit on the couch with you while you watched people do those things on TV or in a movie?
How does it seem to me after I've prayed about it?
Who is it that would arise from a fervent prayer to God and then go straightway into a questionable activity? Does your recreation pass all these nine tests?
If so, continue in it; if not forsake it, for it is not recreation but dissipation. The best possible test that we could apply to our recreation is found in the words of our text.
- 1 Corinthians 10:31-32
When we apply these things to our lives, how do our recreational activities stack up? Are we bringing glory to God or are we bringing things that offend the church, or those around us?
We need to be pure in heart.
The only way to be pure in heart is to be found in Jesus Christ. To be in Jesus we must believe that Jesus is the Son of God, repent of our sins, confess His name before men, and have our conscience washed clean in baptism, and live a faithful life unto God through Christ.
We're here to help you, if you need help responding to the invitation of the Lord, we ask you to contact us.
Adapted from Glorifying God and Other Sermons by Melvin J. Wise. Pg. 52-59