RESPECTABLE WORLDLINESS

E.R. Hall, Jr.

          Whenever we hear the word “worldliness” we often think of lying, drunkenness, adultery, and other such sins. There is no doubt that God’s word condemns such things from verses like Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone:”.

          Yet there is another kind of worldliness that we possibly do not recognize because it is so widely accepted. Let’s call it ‘respectable worldliness’ because it has to do with good things like our families, our jobs, recreation, etc. Many of our material blessings come to us through these things and none of us would deny the rightful place which they have in our lives. However ANYTHING that we put more emphasis on than serving God and doing His will becomes a sin. We are to “…love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” (Mark 12:30). This verse is telling us that everything is to be secondary to God.

          Many Christians are guilty of ‘respectable worldliness’. No, they do not commit fornication or adultery. They are not drunkards or drug abusers. What they are guilty of is letting the good and decent things of this life totally engulf them. As a result, things of the Lord are being pushed to the side little by little, more and more. How often have we used the words, “I don’t have the time” when it comes to justifying ourselves for not visiting the sick, studying our Bibles at home, attending all the services, or teaching someone the gospel? What we are saying is that we are too busy working on our jobs or doing for our families to have enough time to do the Lord’s bidding. We mean no harm because we realize the importance of our jobs and families and we understand that God has required us to work and care for our families. Could it be that even though we say we love the Lord, we might just love our jobs and families more. The way we live definitely demonstrates a misplaced affection.

          The blessings we have in this country are a curse to the spirituality of the church. Take a look at ourselves. We have no time for in-depth study of the Bible, some prefer sermonettes during worship services, we drive several miles to attend a ball game or other events but cannot go to the next town to attend a gospel meeting, and we hardly blink an eye at the debt we assume in order to buy a new color TV or automobile, but we would suggest a psychiatrist for the man who would make the same sort of debt to support gospel preaching in a needy area. This kind of worldliness has given us a “ho-hum” attitude especially in view of the fact that everyone in society places job and family at the head of the list of priorities.

          We all know the drunkard, drug addict, fornicator, etc. are going to hell. We help to amen the preacher who steps on their toes. Let’s consider this: Can a person be lost because he worked too many hours making an “honest living” or will one be condemned for attending ball games, or relaxing with friends, or for buying a new TV or car? The answer to these questions can be found in Jesus’ parable in Luke 14:16-24: “A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: and sent his servants at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all wi th one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the mained, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.”

          Notice the men that would not taste of the supper were not drunks, adulterers, homosexuals, or even liars. They were lost over “a piece of ground“, “five yoke of oxen“, and “a wife“. The lesson is simple! PUT GOD FIRST! “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

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