Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
August 24, 2003
Holy & Free, Part 6 – Leisure
What do you do for leisure? Some of you will immediately think
of one particular activity while others of you will think of a
whole list of things. Over the years Christians have responded in
radically different ways to leisure.
Some never considered it because the business of daily
existence left little time for what we commonly think of as
leisure activities. A farmer has to make sure that his animals
are taken care of every day. Daily chores in doing just that
would not leave time for sitting around somewhere and watching a
movie in the evening. And who wants to stay up late when you need
to get up at 4:00 or 5:00 a.m.? However, I don’t believe we
have any farmers in the congregation, and we live in a time when
technology has drastically reduced the amount of time it takes to
complete daily chores, so there is much more time for leisure. I
think it is safe to say that everyone present in this room does
give consideration to leisure time activities. We have plenty of
time to pursue activities that are not compulsory. Leisure is
being able to do what you want instead of what you must.
Some have condemned leisure activities as tools of the devil
and a waste of time. They will even quote verses such as
Ephesians 5:16 that we are to "redeem the time because
the days are evil" as Biblical proof of their point.
While we must admit that a lot of time can be wasted and that the
devil will use leisure activities to get people to sin, but that
does not that mean that leisure itself is wrong. This view is
popular with the workaholic and the driven type of personality,
but it is out of balance scripturally.
Another view takes the opposite extreme in which leisure
activities become the focus of life. We have all met these
people. These are the kinds of people that seem like the only
thing they can talk about is their hobby. It would include sports
fanatics that know the minutia of statistics about all the
players on their team, or those that work only so they can fund
their hobby. Some of these people can also be type A
personalities, but again, the problem is one of balance. Their
focus of life is centered on themselves and their personal
enjoyment. I could also mention those people that just like to
"rest." That is a nice way of saying they like to be
lazy, but we will deal with that next week when we talk about
The Bible gives a balance to life. The workaholic is wrong
because God Himself set the pattern for us when He rested from
his labor on the 7th day (Genesis 2:2). Jesus made it
clear in Mark 7:27 when He said that the Sabbath was made for
man, not man for the Sabbath that this was not because God
needed to rest, but because man needed it. The Sabbath had a dual
purpose. First, it set aside a day in which man could focus his
attention on the worship of God. That is why is was designated as
a "holy day" (Exod. 20:10) of "solemn rest"
that they might humble their souls (Lev. 16:31). There is
time needed to "be still and know that He is God" (Psalm
46:10). Many people purposely keep active or at least will keep
some source of audio stimulation on – radio, TV or music –
because they do not want to be left alone with their thoughts.
Being quiet and reflecting on the God who made you and your
responsibilities toward Him can be very disconcerting if you are
not walking well with the Lord. The Sabbath was also a day for a
"holy convocation" (Lev. 23:3). God was to be the focus
of men’s hearts every day and in everything they did, but
the Sabbath was a special day in which people could gather
together for worship. The Sabbath was to be a day that was to be
"celebrated" (Exod. 31:16), and not be the burden that
the Pharisees had made by Jesus’ time. That brings up its
second purpose which was to provide rest from the daily labor of
Man needs to have a break from his continual labor. We all
know this intuitively or by personal experience, but
psychological studies also show that when people continually
labor for too many days in a row, they become less productive as
their bodies and minds decline as fatigue sets in. Even in the
atheistic communist countries that could care less about God or
His commands, it was found that workers need a day of rest every
The question before us today, however, is not about the need
for time off of work, but rather, what should be done with that
time off. What is or is not proper leisure?
Leisure in Scripture
There are several interesting words used to bring out the idea
of leisure in the Bible.
The first word is the verb, eukairew /
eukaireo, and its cognate noun eukairia / eukairia.
These words can be translated as opportunity, seasonable time,
spend time or leisure. One of its more interesting usages in
relationship to the concept of leisure is in Mark 6:31 where it
is used in relationship to another word that reflects on our
concept of leisure. "And He (Jesus) said to them [his
disciples], Ã¢”¬ËCome away by yourselves to a lonely place
and rest a while." (For there were many people coming and
going, and they did not even have time to eat.)" That
last phrase could be translated that "they did not even have
leisure to eat." They were so busy they were not even
getting opportunity to do one of the more common and necessary
aspects of life – eating. Perhaps many of you feel like that at
times. It is a strange reality that a society which enjoys more
leisure time than most people in history could even imagine
thrives on fast food. Why? Because we are often so rushed to do
the next thing, which is often a leisure activity. Grab a burger
and get to the game. Perhaps it is good to be reminded that
eating and leisure go together. Sit down and enjoy a leisurely
meal with your family and friends.
Jesus and His disciples were extremely busy, and Jesus saw the
need for them all to get a break. That is why He called for them
to go away with Him to a lonely place where they could rest,
which is the word, anapauw / anapauo.
In this context it means to cease from labor in order to recover
and collect strength. It is often translated as "be
refreshed." It can also refer to ceasing from any movement,
keeping quiet, and even be an aspect of sleeping (Mark 14:41).
Jesus and His disciples needed to go on a retreat. All of us need
that at times even if only for a day or two of rest. But be
careful here, many people expend more energy playing during their
vacation than they do at work. They come home from vacation tired
instead of refreshed.
Related words are the noun, katapausiV /
katapausis, which refers to a place of rest, and its cognate
verb, katapauw / katapauo, which means
to "give rest" or "take rest." This is the
word used in Hebrews 4:4,8, 10 to refer to Genesis 2:2 that God
rested on the seventh day. God ceased His work of creation and
was quiet on the seventh day. That is the pattern that He set for
us in following His example.
Keeping Leisure Proper
Now that you know that it is okay to have leisure time and
relax, what kinds of leisure activities are acceptable. All the
general principles we learned in the first week of this series
apply. Ask yourself those self-evaluating questions as you
consider any particular activity. Why do you want to do it? What
purpose will it serve? Will it build me or others up in Christ?
(1 Cor. 10:23) Will it be a help or hindrance to holy living?
(Heb. 12:1-3) Would it cause others to stumble? (Rom. 14) Does it
bring me into bondage or cause me to lose control? (1 Cor. 6:12).
Is it morally positive, neutral or negative? Am I using it as a
covering for my own sin? (1 Pet. 2:16) Does it violate my
conscience (Rom. 14:23) Would I do this if Jesus was with me? (1
John 2:5,6 – Remember Christian that Jesus is always with you).
Will it glorify God? (1 Cor. 10:31)
Let’s consider some of the more common leisure activities
and see how some of these principles might apply.
Sports. Most sports activities should be fine things to
attend or to participate in yourself. Sports events can be
wonderful opportunities for Christian outreach. They are a
non-threatening context for developing relationships with
non-Christians. You can talk to others about their beliefs while
your children play. You can go out after a game and talk about
spiritual matters with your team mates or members of the opposing
team. Groups as Athletes in Action put on special exhibitions and
give testimonies during breaks in the play. Many missions
agencies will often uses sports as a means of developing
relationships in the community. Sports can be used for teaching
positive values such as commitment, self-discipline and team
work, We might also consider that in a society that has become
increasingly sedentary, getting some exercise is a good thing,
though a lot of sports enthusiasts are spectators instead of
participants. As one man quipped about football, you have 60
-100,000 people (and perhaps a million or more if you add in TV
coverage) who are in need of exercise watching about 40 men who
are in need of some rest. Witnessing opportunities and getting
exercise are good things, but you do need to consider if the
sport becomes controlling in your life. That is true whether you
are a spectator or athlete.
What is the cost you in time and finances to participate or
watch this sport? How does that compare with other areas of life?
Are you keeping your priorities in proper order? We all have met
people who spend more on their sports interest than they do in
making sure some of the basic things of daily life are taken care
of. How wise is it to go into debt in order to be involved in a
sports interest? Yet many people do. I wonder what they will say
when they are called to give an account to God of the stewardship
He has entrusted to them?
Time is a big factor in this. Does your interest interfere
with other things that should be of higher priority. The classic
in this is the proverbial "football widow." You could
attach that title to many other sports. Men who neglect their
wives because some sport is more important to them than their
spouse. There are some women who do the same to their husbands.
God calls on husbands to love their wives in a self-sacrificial
manner (Eph. 5:24-33). Wives should be a blessing to their
husband (Prov. 31), not a curse.
Even more serious than this are those that place more
importance on their sports activities than on God. That may seem
harsh to some, but this is a serious matter. This is not to say
that God will condemn you if you miss a Sunday worship service on
occasion, but each of us should give serious consideration to the
admonishment in Hebrews 10:24,25 about "consider[ing]
how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, [and]
not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of
some, but encouraging [one another]; and all the more, as you see
the day drawing near." I hate to say it, but we have had
several families over the years that have ended up dropping out
of all church involvement because it conflicted with their
children’s sports activities. You are free to enjoy
football, baseball, soccer and whatever sport you are interested
in, but you had better give serious reconsideration of your
involvement when participation in them gives the message that
sports are more important than God or fulfilling what He says are
to be the priorities in the Christian life.
Another consideration is the environment in which the sport
activity will be taking place. Not all sports take place in a
family friendly atmosphere, and frankly, I don’t think I
need to be anyplace that I could not take my kids. Perhaps I can
handle the sinful actions of others, but I don’t find it
helpful to my Christian walk to be some place in which people are
drunk, being foul-mouthed, insulting and screaming for people to
get physically injured.
When it comes to my kids participation in sports, I want them
to learn how to play the game well, but even more important are
learning teamwork and good sportsmanship. If they are on a team
or in a league in which winning is the primary goal, then they
are being taught moral values that are opposite of the virtues I
want them to learn, so I will pull them out of it. I mention this
simply to make the point that as Christians we should always be
looking at the larger picture of what is happening and comparing
that to what God would want in our lives and then make our
Games are similar to sports, but they do not require
any athletic ability. A certain amount of physical ability is
required in order to play organized sports such as football,
basketball, baseball, etc., or even individual sports such as
golf, tennis and swimming, or outdoor sports such as backpacking
or hunting. Games require little physical ability, but often
require at least some mental effort. The recreation involved is
found in either beating chance or showing superior strategy
against an opponent. There are all sorts of games: card games,
video games, board games, and mental challenges such as mazes and
While many games seem fairly mindless, there are still all
sorts of things the Christian should consider. Again, the same
list of general questions should be asked, but let’s get
more specific. Many card games can be a lot of fun, even the
various forms of poker, but what about gambling games or those
that lead to gambling? While I cannot find any Scripture that
speaks against playing a game of chance for fun, I can find lots
of Scriptures that speak to the issue of finances. If we remember
that we are only stewards of what God has entrusted to us and for
which we will give an account, then we will be more serious about
how we use our finances. If we have any math sense, we know that
gambling is never an investment. As one person quipped,
"the lottery is a tax on those who are mathematically
challenged." At the heart of gambling for financial gain
is both selfishness and a refusal to follow God’s plan for
First, understand that Christians should not be focused on
pursing wealth. There is nothing wrong with being wealthy or
gaining it as a result of good business practices and financial
choices, but the Christian has far more important things to be
focused on. Matthew 6:33 tells that if we seek first God’s
kingdom and His righteousness and then God will meet the needs of
daily life. Proverbs 23:4 warns, "Do not weary yourself
to gain wealth, Cease from your consideration [of it.] 5 When you
set your eyes on it, it is gone. For [wealth] certainly makes
itself wings, Like an eagle that flies [toward] the
heavens." Proverbs 8:22 adds, "A man with an
evil eye hastens after wealth, And does not know that want will
come upon him." How God wants us to gain finances is by
labor (Prov. 13:11) and diligence (Prov. 10:4). God is against
those who seek to gain wealth hastily (Prov. 21:5; 28:20,22).
Perhaps in the future I will deal with evils associated with
gambling in more detail, but for today, it should be enough to
know that godly wisdom is against it. Therefore, gaming for the
purpose of gaining wealth would not be proper for the Christian.
Don’t get into betting, and if you are going to play some
game of chance, then remove the financial element. Play for
M&M’s, plastic chips or something of that nature.
There so many games of all types that are educational in
nature that the word "edutainment" has been coined to
describe them. There are games of all types to help you with
everything from math, history, and science to languages and
typing skills. Even here the Christian must be careful to make
sure that what is being taught matches what is true. A game about
dinosaurs that teaches evolution could be detrimental in
instilling a Biblical worldview in your children. A good game
will reinforce godly values. But should a Christian play a game
like Sticky Situations that requires you to lie in order
to win? Other games can be good or bad depending how you play
them. Trouble can be played viciously or as a fun game of
chance. Monopoly can teach you some good economic lessons, but
also could be played viciously or as a strategic game of chance.
We have used both in teaching our children the consequences of
being mean and the virtue of being kind. Winning is not
What about role playing games? There are many, many kinds of
these now including fantasy (RuneQuest), comic book (Pajama
Sam), historical (Gettysburg), creative (Simm City),
science fiction (Star Trek), horror (Realms of Haunting)
and lots of various sports games. Some of these are board games,
many others are computer or a Play Station type video games. Many
games are fine, but there are also many that are openly demonic (Diablo
Hellfire) or more subtle, but still evil. There are those
that try to defend questionable games such as Dungeons &
Dragons as being okay or even good. You could go through all
the evaluation questions we have already given, but I think you
can decide for yourself by asking two simple questions. 1. Is
your fantasy role characterized by righteousness? 2. Would Jesus
want to play the game with you? A negative answer to either
should end the argument about whether it is a game you should
Entertainment is another large area of leisure
activities. By entertainment I am referring to those things in
which you would be the audience. This would include movies, TV,
theater and concerts. What I have already said about sports and
games applies to all types of entertainment as do the principles
I talked about last week concerning music. You must evaluate not
only the use of your time and finances, but also the moral
message of the entertainment. Some entertainment is glorifying to
God. Some is neutral and some is nothing less than evil.
I will not spend a lot of time on this subject because Ricky
Jordan spent several months going over principles that need to be
applied to what we watch based on Wayne Wilson’s book, Worldly
Amusements. I believe there are two copies left on the back
table. I personally purchased a couple cases of these books so
every family in the church could have one if they wanted it. If
you have not read that book yet and need a copy, let me know and
we will find a copy for you to read. I do want to briefly bring
out through a series of questions some of the major issues that
we as Christians need to think through before we go to the
theater, a concert, see a movie or watch something on T.V.
Is the message of the entertainment good, neutral or evil?
Is the message compatible with a Biblical worldview?
Is the message truthful and refrains from presenting lies as
Does the entertainment use evil methods to present its
Does it violate the "law of love"? Does it require
others to commit acts of sin in the producing of the
Does it denigrate our Lord?
Does is stimulate sinful interests?
Let me stress again, the Christian should ask these questions
before they subject themselves to the entertainment. Read reviews
and ask others before you go or watch. Web sites such as and are
very helpful in letting you know the moral content of a film
before you see it.
In the back, next to the copies of Worldly Amusements that
are left are copies of Wayne’s Recommended List of
films for Christians. I will not pass out a list of films you
should not see. That list would be too long and some of you would
just want to argue about some film I put on the list that you
think is good entertainment. You do not have to answer to me
about your entertainment choices. You have to answer to God,
because He is the one that judges, not me, and He knows your
As Wayne wrote in his book, "Ultimately, the whole
issue comes down to your perspective, your attitude toward evil.
How do you see evil? Does your heart see uncleanness and impurity
as God does? Does your heart ache, along with His, over sin and
immorality? The Scriptures says simply, Ã¢”¬ËAbhor what is
evil; cling to what is good’ (Romans 12:9). To abhor
something is to want nothing to do with it. Is that where your
heart is? Or have the pleasures of the world, as set forth in the
moves, shaped your heart to tolerate what is evil, instead
of abhorring it? If so, repentance may be in order before you
This is true for all forms of entertainment and leisure
activities, not just movies.
Godly Leisure. If leisure is the time we have available
to do what we want instead of what we must, let me challenge you
with a completely different way of using your leisure time. Up to
this point we have talked about leisure in terms of what you
might want to do to please yourself. How much do you want to know
God and serve Him? What better use could there be for a large
part of leisure than in Bible study, prayer, and serving Him with
whatever spiritual gifts He has entrusted to you?
When we add in the fact that God desires us to be wise in
what is good and innocent in what is evil (Romans 16:19),
then it would be wise of us to use our leisure time in pursuing
what will help increase in our understanding and practice of what
is good and refrain from things that would remove our innocence
of what is evil. The idea of "innocence" here is being
knowledgeable or personally acquainted with what is evil. In
other words, a wise person knows the characteristics of
cleanliness and does not have to put his head in the trash can to
know that it stinks.
People often say they do not have time to read, study, pray or
serve, yet they seem to always have time for the other types of
leisure activities I have mentioned this morning. You can do what
you want in your leisure time, so again, how much do you want to
know God and serve Him? The fact that you are here this morning
tells me that you have at least some interest in this. Are you
balanced in your leisure activities or does selfishness hinder
you from keeping God’s priorities?
Keeping Leisure Balanced
Leisure is a God given blessing. The industrial and
technological advances in American society in the 20th
and 21st centuries have made available amounts of
leisure time that were unknown in prior history and are still
beyond the imagination of most people. Most people in the world
today still work six days a week from sunrise to sunset just take
care of the daily necessities of living. Many Americans think
they deserve to have four to six hours of leisure per day to
relax, be entertained, and do whatever is pleasing to them. Such
leisure is a great blessing you may enjoy, but you do not
"deserve" it. God expects you to be a good steward of
what you have. Are you thankful for the leisure time you have
whether it is a little or a lot? What are you doing with the
leisure time that you have? Are you using it wisely?
Rest is good and needed for the refreshment of body and mind.
Even Jesus needed rest, but we are not to be lazy.
Sports can be great and participation in them can be good
exercise that is often needed. But sports are not to be central
in our lives. They should never become controlling of your
leisure time or detrimental to your pursuit of holiness.
Games can be a lot of fun and many are also educational. If we
use them wisely they can also be helpful in developing godly
character. The Christian needs to be careful to play games for
the right reasons. Gambling is not wise stewardship, and we
should not involve ourselves with games that are contrary to
godliness. If you don’t think Jesus would play the game with
you, then find something else to do.
Entertainment can be a nice way to relax, but we must be
careful of the message and moral values that come with it. Is it
good, neutral or evil?
Study is good, but even here we must be cautious for as
Ecclesiastes 12:12 warns, "the writing of many books is
endless, and excessive devotion [to books] is wearying to the
Balance is not achieved by keeping a schedule of the
activities you do and making sure you put in so much time into
each slot. Balance is maintained by becoming increasingly
sensitive to the moving of the Holy Spirit so that you will keep
the priorities that God has set for your life as He desires, and
God does want your leisure activities to not only include Bible
study, prayer and service, but also rest and recreation.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your
children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children –
draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon.
Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older
Children : Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many
times "consider" or "consideration" are said.
2) Discuss with your parents the things that you should
considered before and while participating in any leisure
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others
What is leisure? How do you spend your leisure time? What does
the Bible say about leisure? Explain the Sabbath and any meaning
it has for Christians. What questions should be asked when
evaluating any particular leisure activity? What are positive
aspects to sports? What cautions need to be heeded in sports?
What are positive aspects to games? What does the Bible say about
gambling? How good of a steward are you? What cautions apply to
edutainment games? What cautions apply to Role Playing Games?
What kinds of entertainment do you enjoy? What cautions need to
be heeded in your entertainment choices? What do you find
offensive in entertainment? Why? Can sin be justified by calling
it "art"? What should you do before being entertained
to keep from being offended? What are some godly things you can
do during your leisure time? What are your priorities in life?
What are the priorities God wants you to have? How can you keep
all of these priorities properly balanced in a way pleasing to
Sermon Notes – August 24, 2003
Holy & Free Part 6 – Leisure
Leisure in Scripture
Keeping Leisure Proper
Role Playing Games
Keeping Leisure Balanced