A cousin of mine has been very successful in several business ventures. He has worked hard over many years and has accumulated wealth and property. He has the accouterments of wealth that one might expect in the form of homes, cars, boats, an airplane, and a farm in the country. This cousin has traveled extensively pursuing his interests and passions. Along the way, his family fell apart and he has experienced a lot of heartache and pain. His “success” has not really brought him the peace of mind and satisfaction that he thought it would.
When I see my relative, now infrequently, he always asks me the same question. After our initial greeting, he says, “Hey, what are you doing for fun?” You see, after a lifetime of toil, he doesn’t find much pleasure or joy in his pursuits. He is still looking for that elusive something to fill the void in his life. He is not alone.
The movie industry is burgeoning with more releases of films every year, which generates huge profits for the movie makers, as people fill the theaters to be entertained and to lose themselves for a little while in a make-believe world.
Certainly, it is not wrong to enjoy playing a game or watching a good movie, as long as it is done in balance and does not become a distraction from doing the basic things that bring a happy, godly life. King Solomon of Israel, to whom God gave a special gift of wisdom, wrote: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…. a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1–4).
As human beings, we should find time to play, to enjoy something that brings us joy and pleasure, always in moderation and not at the expense of others. An important concept is that if some thing or activity breaks one of the Ten Commandments or ridicules Godly principles, it simply is neither fun nor funny. If we spend time on something productive, such as physical exercise, or if it challenges us intellectually, increasing our knowledge on something worthwhile, then it is uplifting and beneficial. For human beings, there is a gnawing emptiness within us that cannot be filled with physical things or activities, though many people try to assuage the feeling with work, or “stuff,” or leisure activities.
Play is important for the young and the old alike, in developing the balanced life our Creator would want us to have. So, whether it is a board game or a video game, a play, a symphony concert or a movie, an athletic game, or a walk in the park, such activities help us maintain a wholesome balance in our lives. But, make no mistake, these activities satisfy only temporarily and are no substitute for a close relationship with God—a relationship that can only be developed over time through prayer, Bible study, and seeking His Kingdom first, as Jesus the Christ said in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Hopefully, my relative will someday find what is missing in his life, and then his work and his play will finally bring him what he truly wants, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).