September 10, 2014 -In the World But Not of the World

I still haven’t fully addressed the question asked at the beginning of the week. The good man wanted to know if it is okay to find “joy” in sporting events, entertainment venues, and natural conversations about such matters. I certainly enjoy a good football game, and watching “America has talent.” I am blown away by the talent that some of these people display. I appreciate the time they have put in to develop their talents, and thankful that they shared it with others. What I don’t appreciate is the arrogance displayed by some who don’t realize where those life endowments came from. Paul raises two issues concerning such matters.

First, he says, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Cor. 6:12). When I was an aerospace engineer I belonged to a bridge club at work. Every noon we played duplicate bridge for an hour. On Friday I could tell you almost every hand that was dealt out on Monday. We would discuss how each hand was played at breaks. There is nothing wrong with playing bridge, but I had to quit playing the game, because it was mastering me. I probably have enough maturity now to enjoy the game without it being all consuming. P.S. I confess that I still read the bridge column nearly every day in the newspaper.

Second, Paul wrote, “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify” (1 Cor. 10:23). It sounds like he is repeating himself, but he is raising another issue. Is this conversation, game, play, movie, musical, or activity edifying? If not, politely walk out or walk away. In between these two questions Paul wrote, “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more” (1 Cor.  9:19). Paul had learned to restrict his freedom to win the weaker brother. We live in this fallen world, but we are not of the world. This world does not determine who we are, nor should we allow other people to do that. This truth sets us free to be the person God created us to be, and allows us to enjoy His presence while appreciating healthy relationships, the talents of good athletes, artists, musicians, and especially good cooks, if we can learn to eat in moderation!

Dr. Neil

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