I found myself writing this during a short discussion of some verses in Timothy. It seems good to me and the Spirit to share it with you. It’s a short passage from my next bible study on the Timothys and Titus. Much of it is not doctrine, but a serious question for us to answer personally as we raise our children and grandchildren:
II Timothy 2:3–7
- You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things. [NKJV]
Other translations say sharing sufferings and that soldiers do not get involved with civilian affairs. I’ve always liked the liege lord image better myself. I’m a knight pledged in service to my King—always on-call, 24/7/365. Those are the rules: always on duty, ready at a moment’s notice to obey the word of my Lord.
Soldiers in battle are also engaged in this way. The image is one that we need to hold dear. We are at war—constantly. We must always remember this. No vacations, no time off—on duty because we are facing a relentless enemy who does not play fair seeking to steal from us, kill us, and destroy us. The enemy’s true hope is to get us at an unguarded moment, trick us into denial and then kill us before we can be saved.
The following is my opinion. I believe it is true, but you need to pray about it:
Being on duty at all times is a serious matter. One of the real problems facing the generation born in the 1970s and the decades following is the idea that they deserve a vacation. They honestly believe that time off is a requirement for living. Cite me chapter and verse, please. There is no scriptural image of a vacation except the sabbath.
This is counterproductive thinking at best. It is dangerous for this attitude does not recognize the realities of war. We get a break when the war is over or when the Commanding Officer says we can. Breaks are short. War is real.
The second problem with current cultural realities (and this started earlier [mid-century maybe] remaining a major problem in our culture today) is the whole concept of play. Biblically there are some real problems here. Play is mentioned in scripture—but never in a positive light. Nowhere does the Bible say that play is good. It only acknowledges that immature children do it.
The only real mention of play as adults is in 1 Corinthians about the event in Exodus 32 where the people had just built the golden calf. There it says,
- Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 1 Corinthians 10:7 [ESV]
In fact, play is seen very negatively except for infants and children—where it is given not as a positive thing, but an acceptance of reality. The same is true of hangin’out. In the verse that follows play and hangin’out disappear when things get really bad. This is true, but you’ll look in vain for scripture promoting play and hangin’out as necessary for development. You’re expected to grow beyond this childishness at what we would consider a young age.
- For death has crept in through our windows and has entered our mansions. It has killed off the flower of our youth: Children no longer play in the streets, and young men no longer gather in the squares. Jeremiah 9:21 [NLT]
It has gotten so bad that we place a high priority on allowing and even teaching children to play. Even beyond that, men and women are considered children until they get out of school and that is often in their twenties. Even further astray is the value and priority placed on play by men and women who should know better even up unto their forties and fifties. Countless men and women abandon their families to play golf, softball, hang glide, sky dive, and so on.
In the only positive mention of play:
- The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there. Zechariah 8:5 [NIV]
The time frame seems clearly to be after the war is over—probably during the Millennium—when life has gotten good again. The tribulation is over. But we are in the midst of the Great Tribulation.
Age of accountability
A final concept should be mentioned though modern thought would be appalled at this. In Christian terms this is the age of person who becomes responsible for their sin. There is no number given to us Biblically. Roman Catholics say 7 years old, Mormons 8 years old. Jews set the age at 13 for boys and 12 for girls. In general, 13 years old is the maximum and 6 or 7 years old is common as historical standards. Regardless, it is not 18 years old (end of high school) or 22–30 years old (end of college). My experience suggests that it is around 6 years old.
So, play should be done by then?
I think so—that’s when the warfare begins. But, I’m not calling for rigid nastiness. I’m saying that we do a disservice to our children by not telling them about the realities of the kingdom of God. Let them play, but teach them to work. Only now in my sixties am I beginning to learn the value of discipline and wisdom. I was never taught it as a child or youth. Boomers are seriously afflicted with this disease of the flesh. Dr. Spock would not allow it.