Today’s question comes from Graham in Tennessee: “Pastor John, my question is this: Is it wrong to have hobbies such as hunting, flying, shooting, climbing, or any other number of things that cost a decent amount of money to be able to participate in? These things seem like ways to enjoy God’s creation, but it is also a lot of money not going toward missions. So where do you draw the line? Should we not do anything apart from things strictly related to ministry, or may we enjoy other areas of life as well and split our money between the two?”
Right now I am reading biographies and books about and by Hudson Taylor, the missionary, and I think Hudson Taylor would answer this with a pretty blunt, “Come on, come on, come on! Let’s give our lives for this cause!” So I have that ringing in my ears, and I don’t want to soft pedal by being a culturally-adapting Christian.
Playing Games with Life
But here is what I think I need to say biblically: Yes, some people waste their lives playing. They do. Their whole life is jumping from one fun thing to the next. That is why all they know to talk about, and all they spend their life thinking about, is the next toy or the next vacation — the next stunt that they are going to be a part of. And those people give little thought to the biblical truth that their life is not their own. Paul said, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). These people act as if they do whatever they please with no reference to the One who owns them or bought them. And those people need to hit pause on their life and ask, “Am I really born again? Do I have any of the affections my Father in heaven has?”
So to me, if you operate from that verse in 1 Corinthians 6, then you ask of your hobbies — whether outdoors or indoors. It doesn’t make any difference whether you collect coins or climb mountains — Is this the Lord’s will for my life that he bought, and he owns? And to answer that you ask, Am I glorifying him in this hobby? Is this hobby serving to make him look glorious? Is it making me look like one who values his glory above all?
Paul said, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do” — whether you climb mountains or hunt deer or collect coins or do crossword puzzles — “do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Make him look like the Treasure that he is in doing it. If you can’t, don’t do it.
Three Ways to Treasure God in Your Hobbies
Now, how does that happen in hobbies or in leisure or in recreation? I will just mention three ways:
1. Does it cause your heart to exalt God, or the world?
Is the hobby, the leisure, the recreation feeding your own soul with God-exalting experiences? Do you see God in it and find your spirit enlivened for him in it? Or is it dragging you down? Is it leading you to be more distant from him, more indifferent to him, more in love with the world and less in love with him?
2. Does it refresh you?
Is the hobby, the leisure, the recreation refreshing you physically, emotionally, and spiritually for the other parts of your life where you need energy and focus to live for his glory as part of your vocation or your family? Or is the hobby depleting you and weakening you and making you less able to do that part of your life to the glory of God?
3. Does it point others to Christ?
Are you involving others in your hobby, leisure, recreation so that they are pointed to the glory of God? Is your hobby a means of drawing others into your life for the sake of authentic relationships leading to Christ?
So it seems to me that those are the questions that are more prominent than the amount of time you spend or the amount of money you spend. Time and money are a subset of those questions. So instead of thinking quantitatively — quantities of time or quantities of money — think qualitatively — the quality of your walk with God and the quality of your walk with others. Is the hobby deepening your walk with God and enhancing your witness to others?