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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Es of Entertainment, #4 -- Economize Your Time

So far in this series of posts, I have discussed the first three of seven principles for a Christian approach to entertainment:  Exalt God, Exercise Biblical Discernment, and Expose Evil Rather than Enjoying It.  Here is another E that will make your choices EEEasier...

Economize Your Time.  Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.”  Although it may not be sinful for you to watch TV, it certainly would not be wise for you to watch too much of it!  And that applies to any form of “entertainment.”  The modern media is so enthralling and effective at capturing your attention and affection, that you must be “careful how you walk,” lest entertainment becomes more important and time-consuming than the things that really matter.  Movies, TV, and music dominate the lives of so many people today, including Christians, that they do not even have time to think about anything spiritual, let alone to serve and worship God.  Add to those things net-surfing, computer games, sports, and other hobbies, and we have a society so saturated in entertainment that we are drowning in it!  Our souls are so constantly submerged in a sea of pleasure-seeking, that we rarely break the surface to contribute anything useful to the Lord or others.

Satan wants you to waste your time, and he is busy producing various forms of entertainment to help you do just that—in spades.  This is one way that “the days are evil,” and one reason why you must plan and work hard to “make the most of your time.”  That means, first of all, that you should set strict limits on the amount of time and money you spend on entertainment.  That part of your life should be only a footnote, whereas the main page should be filled with hard work, studying the Scriptures, worshipping God, and loving and serving others.  So often those really important things are the footnote, and our pursuit of pleasure is what preoccupies the mind, consumes the energies of the body,  and drains the checkbook.  And so we epitomize the godlessness of the last days, becoming “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:4).

Another application of this principle, however, is that when we do enjoy various forms of entertainment, we should seek to find some “redemptive value” in them.  When we are told to make the most of our time, that includes the time we spend having fun.  So ask yourself, “How can this leisure time be spiritually profitable in some way?”  For example, you could choose to play sports more than watching them, so you will get exercise and build relationships with others for the sake of the gospel.  Another way is to research and find the kind of movies, music, and books that have something interesting and insightful to say about the world that God has made, or even God Himself.  What you observe in that kind of art can make you a better person (when you “take Jesus with you”), and can also help you build bridges to unbelievers, so that you can share the gospel with them.  So before you spend two plus hours watching a movie, or an hour listening to a CD, I challenge you to consider whether or not it will have any redemptive value.  Will you learn something, be inspired in any way to be a better person, or otherwise be able to thank God for those hours (Rom. 14 again)?  If not, why waste that time, when it could be used in a way that is much more profitable?[1]
If a “fun” activity has no redemptive value in itself, then you should find ways to make it more profitable.  An example of this would be a day my sons and I spent recently at an amusement park—something we don’t do very often, but we got the tickets for that day at a significant discount.  So to make the most of our time, we invited another man and his son, who needed some encouragement and discipleship in the faith.  We spent the day growing our friendship with these two brothers, and also talking about spiritual issues when the opportunity arose.    So the day was not just about having fun, although we did do that, but it was also about fulfilling the Great Commission by “making disciples.”[2]  Now this is not to say that it would have been wrong for me to go alone with my sons that day—I could have thanked God for the friendship I was building with them.  But how much more profitable it was for us to have another clearly spiritual purpose for the day, which we could pray about before and after our trip.  And that provides a good transition to the next principle…

[1] I remember renting the movie Pulp Fiction one time, because a Christian friend told me it was his favorite film ever.  I kept waiting for some kind of “redemptive value” to grace the screen, but nothing even came close.  So I vowed that I would never waste two hours of my life watching that movie again, even though it was interesting, in a sick sort of way, and funny at times.  So many movies are like that—they are slick and “well-made” by cinematic standards, but have no profit in them whatsoever.  As someone has pointed out, movie critics and fans are always commenting on whether a movie is made well, but never stop to ask why it was made in the first place!  What’s the point of a movie like that, except to be find amusement in evil and make money for the people who produce it?  Christians should learn to ask that kind of question more often.
[2] Someone once defined discipleship as “a friendship for spiritual purposes,” and I think that is a helpful definition, because it reminds us that we don’t have to be studying the Bible at every moment to be “making disciples.”

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