Text: Mark 6:30-32
The Bible talks often about labouring hard for the Lord. A Christian ought to be hardworking and not lazy (c.f. Ecclesiastes 9:10). Indeed, “if any would not work, neither should he eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) But what about leisure and recreation? Is leisure permitted in the Holy Scriptures?
The word “leisure” is found once in the King James Version in Mark 6:31. It is translated from the verb eukaireō which refers to having time or opportunity to do an activity. In the case of the disciples, they did not have an opportunity even to eat!
The disciples had just returned from their evangelism session. They were sent by Christ to preach for the first time in pairs. They were not allowed to carry any scrip or bread. Neither were they permitted to have any money in the purse. They were to depend solely on the provision of God as they went about preaching repentance. Many of the disciples were fisher-men or tax collectors. These were often looked down upon in society. As they went on their mission, they would have experienced much rejection and criticism. It was a most physically and emotionally draining experience for the disciples!
When the disciples returned from their mission, they reported the details of their work to their Master. However, the crowds kept coming and going, demanding their attention. There was simply no opportunity to rest despite the ardours and stresses of the previous mission. It is with this consideration in mind that the Lord Jesus Christ told the disciples to depart into a desert place where it is private so that they may rest awhile from their labours.
Herein lies the purpose of biblical leisure. It is a time to retreat from the hustle and bustle of the world to find some well-needed spiritual rest. It is also a time to draw nigh to Christ to find spiritual refreshment. One writer said that Biblical recreation is almost like “re-creation” of the man for future work. The end of leisure when biblically pursued will be a renewed and recharged person who is ready to take on future endeavours for the Lord. It is not for us to engaged in worldly entertainments and pleasure so that we can fulfil our fleshly lusts!
A good restatement of the principle behind leisure and recreation can be found in the Chinese proverb “休息是为了走更长的路” (i.e. a rest is only the preparatory step for a longer journey ahead). Alas, how often is this statement abused as an excuse for laziness! Take note that the Scripture says “rest awhile” not “rest for long”. Do not be like the slothful in Proverbs 26:14 – “As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed” (Proverbs 26:14). Once we are refreshed, we should be up and going for the Lord.
Finally, let us make sure also our leisure activities promote the name of Christ, and not sin or self. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17). Therefore, let us examine our leisure activities and make sure there is none that that encourages worldliness.
Leisure when pursued according to Biblical principles leads to more effective service for the Lord.
Lovingly in Christ,
Preacher Clement Chew
WHEN LOVE DIVORCES DOCTRINE AND UNITY LEAVES TRUTH (II)
By John C Whitcomb
(Taken from the Appendix of Biblical Separation: Doctrine of Church Purification and Preservation by Jeffrey Khoo)
Love Teaches the Truth
John 21 gives an example of one who said much about his love for Jesus but when it came to obedience it was not there. His name, of course, was Peter. He insisted, that he would never waver in loyalty saying, “Even though all the disciples betray you, I will not. You can count on me.” But when the pressure came his resolution collapsed, he denied his Lord, and as Jesus looked at him in that courtyard, he went out and wept.
After the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, by the Sea of Galilee, the Lord confronted Peter very lovingly, but in truth, and said, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? [Do you really love Me more than these other disciples?] He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs . . . Feed my sheep . . . Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17). How do we express love to the Lord Jesus according to the lesson of this confrontation? By feeding His sheep, as He also commanded in the great commission—by teaching His people and training them in the whole counsel of God, “teaching them whatsoever I have commanded you.”
Acts 20 provides a good example of an apostle who obeyed the great com-mission of the Lord Jesus Christ. Although he says nothing about love for the Ephesian people in this passage, he exhibited the supreme love of any disciple toward the Ephesians. What did he do for them? Did he say, “I love you, I love you, I love you?” Acts 20:26 and 27 gives the answer, “Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” Paul had preached for three months and when some had spoken against his message he had separated the disciples to meet in the hall of Tyrannus. Here, for two years, he instructed that group in the whole counsel of God. Imagine the prolonged, in-depth, intensive training those Ephesian elders must have experienced through Paul.
The result was “that all they which dwelt in Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord Jesus.” Everyone in the province heard the true message about Christ because the apostle based his evangelism on the clear, sound doctrinal instruction of that pioneer band. That is God’s key for world evangelism.
Modern ecumenical-style evangelism would have arrived in the city of Ephesus, proclaimed an absurdly simplified, non-controversial, stream-lined message, and then rushed off to another city.
Love Leaves Nothing Out
It was not easy for Paul to preach the doctrinal material which he taught those men at Ephesus. He dealt with doctrines which were controversial, offensive, and divisive, which is why he said, “I shunned not to declare unto you . . . .” Remember the words of Galatians 1:6, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Why be so blunt and perhaps jeopardise the loving relationship which he enjoyed with that church? It was necessary to risk becoming their enemy, as Paul tells us in Galatians 4, in order to tell them the Truth.
A passage in Ephesians 4 tells us how to achieve the perfect balance. Notice the gifts that God has given to the true Church, the body of Christ, for service and ministry in this age. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11). Every one of these gifts in the form of a person is a doctrinal person. They are all totally involved in Truth. All were totally involved in preaching, teaching and disciplining in the light of revealed Truth. There is no teaching whatsoever in the New Testament suggesting that love is more important than doctrine or Truth. Love is referred to in this passage by verse 15 when we read of “speaking the truth in love.” Love is the manner and method of speaking Truth. Love is the servant of Truth. It makes it easier to receive, absorb and digest. But it must never be allowed to eclipse or set aside Truth.
God’s Truth can never change, but God’s Truth in the hands of human messengers is a very delicate and fragile thing. It is either vigorously proclaimed and defended or it tends to evaporate within one generation. Truth cannot be perpetuated through compromise, and compromise cannot be avoided without separation. This basic principle has been illustrated over and over again in the history of church groups, Christian institutions of higher learning, missionary societies and so forth, down the centuries. We can name group after group, organisation after organisation, that began with a deep desire to honour Jesus Christ and His precious Word. But within one, two or at the most three generations they collapsed as instruments of the Holy Spirit because there was no determination or courage to implement the biblical separation from elements that poisoned, contaminated and destroyed the essential testimony.
(to be continued)