Leisure & the Gift of Time
Yahuwah is a most generous Father. Most of His gifts go unrecognized and unacknowledged by His earthly children who take them for granted. But all should remember that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1:17, NKJV) One gift that is overlooked perhaps more than any other is the gift of time. Without Yahushua’s sacrifice, there would be no time – for anyone. All would be judged guilty for breaking the divine law, the punishment for which is eternal death. Because time itself is a gift, Yahuwah’s people will recognize the responsibility to use it wisely and in a manner which glorifies Him. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of [Eloah]. (1 Peter 4:10, NKJV) By its very nature, time is illusive. It is natural to assume you have “all the time in the world” to accomplish what you want in life. The finality of death, the unexpected accident or the long, lingering illness, is something that happens to others, not oneself. Because of this illusion, many people go through life never accomplishing the good they could do, or that it would be their privilege to do in cooperating with Heaven. Scripture admonishes: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Yahushua, giving thanks to Yahuwah the Father through Him.” (See Colossians 3:17.) To do something in the name of Yahushua means to do it as His representative. As a Christian, you are Yahuwah’s representative, His ambassador in a world corrupted by sin. What you do or do not do is a reflection on Him. By taking the name of “Christian,” you proclaim yourself to be of the family of Heaven. Do your actions and your words reflect your high calling? Satan ever seeks to corrupt Yahuwah’s gifts and thus divert Heaven’s intended blessings. He has devised countless ways to attract the attention and capture the imagination. In these diversions, many Christians who would not dream of dishonoring their Maker in more obvious ways are deceived into wasting the precious talent given them: their time.
Satan has amusements designed for every personality type and for every individual taste. These leisure activities divert the attention and tend to becloud the mind. The result is that Bible study and activities that have eternal value come to appear difficult and tiring, boring and uninteresting. This is one of Satan’s most subtle deceptions. Many who would not dream of gambling will, from time to time, engage in playing cards with friends – for relaxation only. However, skill at cards soon leads to the desire to use the knowledge and ability for personal gain. A small amount of money, maybe only pennies, is at stake, then more, in ever increasing amounts until an addiction for gambling and its excitement becomes overwhelming. Other amusements may not appear to have as close a connection to vice and sinful indulgence, but the mind that is distracted with these activities is as much a slave to Satan and finds the pursuit of holiness as boring and distasteful as does the one who is engaged in more obvious sins. Perhaps nowhere is this seen as clearly as in the issue of computer games. Under the guise of “gaming,” multitudes have learned the skills of criminals and participated in bloodbaths – all legal because it is only a computer game. However, the effect on the subconscious and the character itself cannot be overlooked. One well-publicized incident occurred when Paxton Galvanek witnessed an SUV flip and roll down the highway. Galvanek said that playing a videogame entitled “America’s Army” taught him the medic skills to staunch the bleeding of a passenger whose fingers had been severed in the crash. Galvanek had no formal medical training; instead, he relied on lessons he learned playing America's Army, a video game developed by the U.S. Army in 2002 as a PR and recruitment tool. Players receive virtual training as they progress through the game and perform missions as a U.S. soldier. The game's most popular feature is the online multi-player mode, where each team sees itself as U.S. soldiers or allies, while the other team appears as the enemy. The interface is renowned for its realistic portrayal of weapons and combat. . . . It is one of many war games currently available, including Full Spectrum Warrior, another game funded by the Army. In all, the U.S. military has adopted 23 different video games for various purposes. (See Public Broadcasting Service, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/digitalnation/wagingwar/a-new-generation/playing-americas-army.html) Hans Jørgen Olsen, a 12-year old Norwegian boy, likewise saved his sister from a moose attack with skills he learned playing World of Warcraft. While saving lives is unarguably a good thing, how many more people have been trained to kill by playing these very same games? In fact, soldiers themselves are trained by very similar simulations.
According to the Public Broadcasting Service website: •
The video game America's Army has 9.7 million registered users -- a number 15 times greater than the size of the regular U.S. Army.
It's been downloaded more than 42.6 million times, more than any other war game.
As of August 2008, registered users from over 60 countries have spent 230 million hours playing America's Army.
And yet, the “game” is so realistic that even soldiers protest the effect it has on those who play: “America's Army has drawn protests from some groups, including Iraq Veterans Against the War, who say it glamorizes war and aims at recruiting children as young as 13.” (PBS.org) Modern “civilized” people stand appalled at the barbarous brutality witnessed by the Romans in their arenas, where gladiators, criminals and Christians alike spilled their blood for the entertainment of those watching. Modern gaming takes it a step further, allowing anyone who wants to, to participate in killing another. Such skills do not fit one for Heaven. The minds of those who play are hardened to brutality and extreme violence under the guise of “entertainment.” Those who would live eternally have no business learning how to kill or even in wasting the gift of time in activities that not only do nothing to help others or draw them closer to Yahuwah but that actually dull the taste for and harden the soul against sacred topics. Those who spend their leisure time playing games or in other frivolous amusements soon lose all taste for reality, or even for useful and elevating pursuits. Simple board games such as checkers, chess and Monopoly seem innocent enough, but can certainly lead to a hunger for amusement and competition. Rather than generally condemning any specific activity, let all prayerfully examine their lifestyle and, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, apply the principal of using their time wisely and avoiding amusements for their own sake. The very word “amuse” reveals the satanic origins of the amusements with which he beguiles the mind. The word comes from:
late 15 c., “to divert the attention, beguile,” delude from M. Fr. amuser “divert, cause to muse” . . . [The] sense of divert from serious business, tickle the fancy of is recorded from 1630s, but through the [18th century] the primary meaning was [to] “deceive, cheat” by first occupying the attention. (Etymology Dictionary, http://www.etymonline.com, emphasis supplied.) Since Lucifer first beguiled Eve with lies in Eden, it has been Satan’s studied attempt to divert the mind from the weightier matters of salvation to that which destroys any love of or interest in holiness. Christians have a duty to use their time wisely and profitably. Paul counseled Timothy to Reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself rather to godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. (1 Timothy 4:7-9, NKJV) Some will argue that playing cards, computer games, etc., are merely ways to relax, to refresh the spirit so a person can return to work able to handle stress and pressure. Most people believe there is nothing wrong with spending time on such activities. However, There is nothing in such amusements beneficial to soul or body. There is nothing to strengthen the intellect, nothing to store it with valuable ideas for future use. The conversation is upon trivial and degrading subjects. There is heard the unseemly jest, the low, vile talk, which lowers and destroys the true dignity of manhood. These games are the most senseless, useless, unprofitable, and dangerous employments the youth can have. (E. G. White, Counsels on Health, p. 172.) “Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days. There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless [Yahuwah’s] counsel – that will stand.” (Proverbs 19:20-21, NKJV) There is no end to the path of foolish, time-wasting amusements. Every step taken in it is a step in a path which Yahushua has not traveled. “In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.” (Proverbs 12:28, NKJV) Time itself is a gift from the Creator. It should always be spent wisely as each person has only one lifetime, one Many Christians who would not dream of dishonoring their Maker in more probationary period. This certainly does obvious ways are deceived into wasting the precious gift of time more subtly. not mean that people must always be hard at work with no time for rest. A wise use of Heaven’s blessings provides time for both work and relaxation. Work will be more productive, if sufficient time is given for both recreation and relaxation.
Ecclesiastes 7:25 refers to folly and foolishness as being wicked. All who are readying themselves for Heaven will seek ways to relax that have Yahuwah’s blessing. Spending time in nature, studying Scripture alone and with others, looking for ways to be a blessing and a help to neighbors and people brought into our acquaintance are all ways that a Christian may safely relax without venturing upon forbidden ground. When the Saviour was on earth, He frequently withdrew to nature, to worship, to pray and to meditate. Those who would develop characters like His will do likewise. In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death. (Proverbs 12:28, NKJV) Probationary time has been graciously granted so that all may prepare characters for Heaven. This precious gift of time should not be wasted, frittered away on activities and amusements which turn the heart away from the Saviour. Rather, the time remaining should be used wisely, carefully, and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Commit yourself to Yahuwah. Lay everything on the altar of sacrifice – even your leisure time. An eternity of bliss awaits all who bring their thoughts, their feelings, even their likes and dislikes into harmony with the divine image.