************ Sermon on 1 Corinthians 10:31 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on June 12, 2005

1 Corinthians 10:23-33
1 Corinthians 10:31
"Godly Recreation"

"It's more fun than your minister wants you to have." My head snapped up when I heard these words over the radio. "Oh, Oh," I thought, "Wonder what this is about?" A dozen possibilities floated through my mind. Again the announcer said, "It's more fun than your minister wants you to have." Then the voice went on to explain the fun you could have at a certain casino.

Well, they are right. Gambling is a form of "fun" your minister does not want you to have. I believe the Bible supports my position that gambling is bad for your spiritual health: it encourages greed and waste, studies indicate it is terribly addictive, and it especially targets those who can least afford to lose. However, my purpose this morning is not to expose the evils and stupidity of gambling.

"It's more fun than your minister wants you to have." I thought about that phrase this past week. Underlying it is a message about ministers that I deeply resent. "It's more fun than your minster wants you to have." Do you know what it says about ministers? It says ministers are killjoys. It says ministers don't want you to have fun. It says ministers are boring, drab people with somber faces and perpetual frowns. It makes me think of what was said about the New England Puritans: someone who is afraid that someone somewhere is having a good time. I resent that modern media portray me this way.

"It's more fun than your minister wants you to have." I also resent the caricature this has of the Christian faith. This line endorses the view that the Christian life is joyless, dreary, negative, and boring. Christians are boring people. They don't know how to have fun. That's the message.

Many people don't realize that God has built fun into the lives of His people. God tells us to work for 6 days and to rest on the seventh. This seventh day is meant to be a day of leisure, a day away from our work, a day in which we both pray and play.

It is fair to say that our society retains only half of the truth about the Sabbath. The half it has kept is play. So Sundays are filled with activities: sports, golf, camping, picnics, swimming, shopping, and so on. And people neglect to pray. Or, to put it another way: they spend the day on enjoyment and neglect contemplation.

The Bible does not forbid fun and recreation. Though joy and happiness should never be the primary goals of life, they certainly are a part of the Christian's life.

This morning I want to look at godly recreation. Or, to put it another way, how to have fun and still be a Christian.

I The Glory of God and Recreation
A The Bible lays down many principles to govern our entertainment, recreation, and fun. The first and primary principle is found in the words of our text:
(1Cor 10:31) So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Many people don't understand the implications of this verse of the Bible. Listen to this story or legend:
The early church often told the story about Demetrius who had an appointment with God Himself at a certain time and place. As he was hurrying along to get there, he met a peasant whose wagon had become stuck in the mud. Demetrius stopped to help him. The mud was miry; the hole in the road was deep. It was necessary to struggle hard for an hour. When he was finished, Saint Demetrius rushed on to meet God. But when he got to the place of the appointment God was no longer there!
The moral of this story is that life can be divided into spiritual and non-spiritual matters and that only spiritual matters are important. Our text says NO to this kind of thinking. It tells us that all of life is spiritual.
(1Cor 10:31) So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

B This wrong view of life lives among many Christians today. So they rate so-called spiritual things as being higher than so-called material things. And, they talk of the ministry of pastors or missionaries or Christian school teachers as being a "higher calling."

But Paul comes to us this morning with the inspired Word of God and he says:
(1Cor 10:31) So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
All of life and not just some of life can be lived for the glory of God. God is glorified not only by the work of pastors and missionaries and Christian school teachers but He is also glorified by mechanics, public school teachers, carpenters, construction workers, truck drivers, nurses, and those who work in orchards and dairies. God is glorified not only when we worship, but also when we eat and drink. God is glorified not only when we pray, but also when we help our neighbor. God is glorified not only when we attend Bible Study, but also when we take a vacation.

C Now let me ask: What do you do for fun? What do you do when you want to rest and relax? What do you do on vacation? Does it bring glory to God? I've already mentioned gambling. By spending a week in the casinos of Las Vegas or Tahoe can you really say you are glorifying God? Or, young people, by going to a rock concert that is filled with vile acts and foul language can you really say you are glorifying God? Or, by watching a movie or TV show filled with smut and violence can you really say you are glorifying God? Or, by sitting in a bar and drinking too much can you really say you are glorifying God? Or, by losing your temper during a volleyball, soccer, basketball, or baseball game can you really say you are glorifying God? When you are so competitive in your recreation that winning is everything can you say you are glorifying God?

Does your recreation and fun and amusements and vacations glorify God? That's the question! Or, are they like the mouse trap I showed the children; are you playing with things that are dangerous to your spiritual health?

II Holy Recreation
A I start my vacation tomorrow. Actually, I prefer the term that I grew up with in Canada. I start my "holidays" tomorrow. The word "holiday" comes from two English words: holy and days. This is a reminder that our vacation days, like every other day, should be holy days. Or, to put it another way, vacation time should be spent in wholesome activity. I might start vacation tomorrow, but it should not be a vacation from God or the things of God. My vacation days should be holy days. And, if they are, then God is glorified.

B Many people, when they are on vacation, do things they would be ashamed of doing in front of the people at home. So we can go a step further and say that a holiday, a holy day, that glorifies God is one does not conflict with any of the Ten Commandments. Our fun and recreation should never further the cause of Satan. Our amusements should not hurt our spiritual or moral well-being; they should not leave us open to our spiritual foes and expose our weaknesses. We should not be playing with mouse traps. Or, to state it positively, our fun and recreation should reflect that we are covenant children of God. If it does, then it glorifies God.

I think here of what we read in Judges 7 about Gideon and his army. Gideon dismissed the members of his army who carelessly dived into the water-hole to satisfy their thirst. Their failure to be more vigilant was a gross neglect of duty. In contrast, the 300 who remained on guard, even as they scooped up handfuls of water, understood that their pleasure could never be pursued in such a way that it put them at risk physically, morally, or spiritually. When fun means abandoning character, discipline, or duty for a time, then it is wrong and does not glorify God.

Christians are called to live a life of discernment. That is true when it comes to fun and recreation too.

C I once saw a bumper sticker which says, "I owe, I owe, so off to work I go." Many people live for recreation and vacation. They work to play. They start out seeking pleasure and end up accumulating things that put them deeply in debt. Here is a reminder that fun and recreation should never occupy more than a secondary place in life. In our recreation we cannot forget what Jesus said about seeking first the kingdom and its righteousness (Mt 6:33). As long as we keep this in mind, then our recreation glorifies God.

A word we can use here is moderation. We don't live or work to play. Recreation is not the biggest or most important thing in life. Some men get so involved in golfing or fishing or hunting or cycling that they end up neglecting their family, their church, and their God. Some women get so involved in shopping, gardening, or sewing, that they end up doing the same thing. Moderation is the key. We are not to seek recreation first. Rather, we are to seek the kingdom and its righteousness first. Moderation, in other words, glorifies God.

D Let me list one more limit that the Bible places on our fun and recreation. No one is entitled to enjoy what can be obtained only by risking life, freedom, happiness, or well-being. Second Samuel 23 reports how David longed for water from his hometown well. So three of David's brave men, at great risk, infiltrated enemy lines to bring David some of this water. David's conscience did not permit him to enjoy what was only obtained with great danger so he poured the water on the ground. I have no right to fun if it is dangerous to me or to others. I cannot play with mouse traps; I cannot endanger myself.

This past week I looked up the website for Thrillseekers Unlimited. It certainly was direct and to the point:
If it flies in the air or falls from the sky, you'll find it in our Fly & Fall section: B.A.S.E. Jumping, Skysurfing, Skydiving, Paragliding, Bungy Jumping and Ultra Light Flying.

If it rides, drives or operates on the street, ground or in the dirt, you'll find it in our Dirt & Pavement section: BMX/ Inline/Skateboarding, Freestyle Moto-X, Freestyle Street Bike Stunts, Thrill Globe, ATV Stunts, Rhino Off- Roading, Street Luging, Shifter Kart Racing, Motorized Skate Stunts, Downhill Skateboarding, Hovercraft Racing, Firewalking and Carveboarding.

If it rides or drives in water, you'll find it in our Water & Ocean section: Jetskiing/Sea Doos, Water Skiing, Hovercraft Racing, Wakeboarding, Jet Surfboarding, Kite Surfing, Airboats and Off-Shore Race Boats.

If it rides, drives or climbs on the snow or ice, you'll find it in our Snow & Ice section: Snowboarding, Hovercraft Racing, Snowmobiling, Ice Climbing and Ice Bikes.

If it happens on rocks or in the mountains, you'll find it in our Rock & Mountain section: Rock Climbing, Mountain-boarding, Sand Surfing, Trail Skating and Rhino Off- Roading.

If it's new or not even available yet (but coming soon), you find it in our Future Sports section: Thrill Globe, Motorized Skate Stunts, Hovercraft Racing and Jet Surfboarding.
One person who signed up summed it up this way: 4 days and 5 ways to defy death. Now, I am sure that this corporation is very careful and safe it would have to be or else it would be sued out of existence in these United States. Too many times, however, people do these sort of things without proper training and supervision and equipment and thus violate the principle of not endangering self or others in their pursuit of fun. Think of those who drink and drive, or go canal running, or dive into one of our rivers filled with snow melt. All of them are playing with mouse traps, all of them are toying with something dangerous.

III Some Examples
A What is a godly vacation? What is godly recreation? Am I supposed to spend the time praying, singing hymns, and reading my Bible? Of course not! Though I should not neglect this. God is glorified whenever I give my mind or body a rest, whenever I spend time with my family and do fun things with them, whenever I enjoy His creation, whenever I rest so I can do better work afterwards.

Let me give some examples of God-glorifying vacations besides going to places like Disneyland, Great America, a mountain cottage, the ocean, visiting family, and so on.

B Some families spend vacation time visiting our great national parks and enjoy the mountains and rivers made by God. They go white-water rafting under proper supervision and have an experience they will never forget. That is a God-glorifying vacation.

Since March I have taken Ruth to the poppy preserve in the Mojave Desert, gone with Ruth and her brother to Yosemite, cycled around Lake Tahoe, cycled to the Sequoias, cycled back roads to the coast, and cycled to Balch Park. This year's abundant rain fall has made all of these a once in a lifetime viewing opportunity. God is glorified when we enjoy the beauty of what He has made and get stress-relieving exercise at the same time!

I have friends who sometimes spend their summer vacation at Calvin College attending Summer Fest. They work with their hands all year long and use their vacation to expand their mind, to learn. Other people travel to historic sites to learn. I have a friend, for instance, who is a civil-war buff, and spends his vacations checking out old battlefields and monuments. These are God-glorifying vacations.

A growing trend today is to spend vacation time doing volunteer work. The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, for instance, has volunteer openings lasting from a few days or weeks to several months. Habitat for Humanity, which remodels homes for the poor, needs assistance both here and overseas. That is a God-glorifying vacation.

We live in farm country so few of us would see this as vacation but many city people enjoy a farm vacation in which they help with the haying, milking, and so on and learn where their food comes from. That is a God-glorifying vacation.

In a recent issue of Christianity Today I saw an article about a Christian retreat center something like a monastery, but for Protestants. These centers offer a quiet place for reflection, prayer, and writing. According to the article, many college students spend their Spring breaks doing this rather than Cancun or Florida. That is a God-glorifying vacation.

"It's more fun than your minister wants you to have." I hope you don't believe for a minute that ministers are killjoys. This minister, for one, does not want to limit anyone's fun as long as what we do glorifies God.

But does it? What is your fun and recreation like? Is your vacation a holiday, a holy day?
(1Cor 10:31) So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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