Is it wrong for me to binge watch Netflix? What about putting my kids on a select soccer team that plays on Sunday mornings? Am I spending too much time at the gym?
The Bible doesn’t have specific answers for these kinds of questions. But this doesn’t mean the Bible doesn’t have something specific to say.
RUN THE RACE
If we are going to run the race of the Christian life with endurance, there are things we must lay aside—if they are hindering us, tripping us, restricting our movement.
Netflix may or may not be tripping you up. It might be enabling you to lust, shirk responsibilities, neglect rest and neglect enjoying God and his word. Or, it might be a proper way to rest and enjoy God’s world. Your hobbies, while good, can get out of control and start to control you—or they can be what God intends.
The writer of Hebrews tells us to act like marathon runners, chunking the items weighing us down so we can plow forward looking to our crucified and risen Jesus.
“Let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus the source and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1–2).
I love how the writer of Hebrews gives two categories, sins and hindrances.
Sins are the obvious—from the Bible—category, non-arguable things in our lives we must kill and lay down. Lust, envy, lying, drunkenness, pornography, greed, gluttony, fear, etc.
Hindrances are the non-obvious category. They aren’t blatantly clear in God’s word. Social media usage isn’t lined out by the Apostles. But God gives us the Spirit, his word, and his wisdom to assess our running.
Your budget, movies, and hobbies may not be sinful, but it’s possible to sin with them. This doesn’t mean we need to pursue modern-monkery. No way. This is about whether we are eating, drinking, reading, playing, working out, or Netflixing to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).
This is tricky too. These hindrances aren’t universal. Sins are universal; if the Bible says this is sin, it’s true for all of us. There is no, “Oh, maybe for you, but I can do this.” But with the weights/hindrances, these are not standard. What is a hindrance to me may not be one to you. So we have to be honest and assess our own running before the Lord.
IS IT HELPING?
Hebrews is elevating the cost of discipleship. We want to do more than meander through life. We want to run for Christ.
So, the question is: Is this helping or hindering me? Does this help me run the race, living with an unfazed focused on Jesus Christ? Is this hindering me? Is this a good thing that I’ve allowed to distract me? If we are sinning, we cease and desist. If we feel distracted, unsure, restricted, we should ask for example:
- Is the way I’m using Twitter helping me run the race with endurance, keeping my eyes on Jesus?
- My eating habits, are they helping me run the race with endurance, keeping my eyes on Jesus?
- My spending, is it helping me run the race with endurance, keeping my eyes on Jesus?
- My downtime at night, is it helping me run the race with endurance, keeping my eyes on Jesus?
We either need to dial back, putting things in their proper orbit—or, we lay it aside altogether so we can run with endurance.