Bowling Green, Kentucky
With the blossoms appearing on the trees, I am reminded that summer will soon be here. School will soon be out. Families will be planning and taking vacations together. Gardens will be planted and worked. Flower beds will be cleaned out and new plants placed in them. Grass will need mowing.
Summer brings a peculiar kind of problem to many Christians. There are temptations which they face in the summer which do not confront some Christians in the winter. We must not be ignorant of Satan's devices. He will use any and every form of temptation to persuade us to forsake the Lord and enjoy sin's pleasures for a season. In an effort to better prepare us to resist the Devil, let us consider some of the temptations which we will be facing in the next few months.
The Temptation Of Immodesty
One of the temptations to which many Christians succumb in the summer months is the temptation to dress immodestly. In the summer months, many Americans wear shorts, halter tops, tank tops, swimsuits, and other forms of immodest dress in public places.
The beaches and public swimming pools are filled by those who are going there to swim or to sun bathe. The attire that is worn at the beaches is designed to expose as much of the body as the laws of the land will allow. Some Americans practically live at the pool during the summer.
There is nothing sinful about swimming. Many Christians find private places in which to swim. However, not all Christians are so careful about finding private places to swim. Some go to the public beaches and swimming pools. Unfortunately, some preachers and their families can be seen at the beaches and pools in the same immodest attire which characterizes the non-Christians who are there.
Some preachers have quit preaching that sin is committed by mixed swimming. Indeed, in some parts of the country, mixed swimming is accepted by Christians as a legitimate form of recreation.
We need to be reminded of what the Bible teaches concerning dress codes for Christians. Paul commanded women to "adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety" (1 Tim. 2:9). The word "modest" is from kosmios which is defined as "well-arranged, seemly, modest" (Thayer, p. 356). The word "shamefacedness" is "a sense of shame" (Ibid., p. 14). It is the moral purity which is rooted deeply into one's character so that he will not do wrong, even when no one else might know about it (see R.C. Trench's Synonyms of the New Testament, pp. 66-72). The word "sobriety" is "soundness of mind." Trench distinguished the last two words in the following way:
At 1 Tim. ii.9 we shall best distinguish between aidos and sophrosune, and the distinction will be capable of further application, if we affirm of aidos that is that 'shamefastness,' or pudency, which shrinks from overpassing the limits of womanly reserve and modesty, as well as from the dishonour which would justly attach thereto; of sophrosune that it is that habitual inner self-government, with its constant rein on all the passions and desires, which would hinder the temptation to this from arising, or at all events from arising in such strength as should overbeat the checks and barriers which aidos opposed to it (Ibid., pp. 71-72).
These words demand a moral character which has a sense of shame rooted fast within. This sense of shame prohibits the indecent exposure of one's body. The reason that women are willing to expose their nudity is because they have lost this sense of godly shame which characterizes women of godliness. They have no embarrassment when men, other than their husbands, see them parading around in a swimsuit which covers so little of the body.
The problem is not confined to the weak sisters. Men frequent the same places as do the women. The Scriptures forbid sinful lust. Jesus said, "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matt. 5:28). Why would a man want to place himself in circumstances in which he is constantly exposed to nearly nude women? The only explanation I can give is because he likes being in those circumstances - he is lascivious in character. Christian men need to imitate the example of Job. He said, "I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?" (31:1).
With summer coming on, Christians need to resolve not to be conformed to this world in reference to the immodesty which characterizes the dress of non-Christians. We need to keep ourselves pure from immodest dress and lascivious and lustful conduct.
The Temptation To Miss Worship
The beautiful summertime lures many people away from the services. Some prosperous brethren resort to their cabin on the lake for fun and relaxation to the neglect of their labor in the local church. Bible classes, song services, and other jobs in which they serve for nine months must suddenly be done by someone else because these brethren are going to enjoy some time away from everything.
During vacations, some brethren who would not think of missing a Sunday or mid-week service at home put themselves in circumstances in which they cannot even assemble with the saints to observe the Lord's supper on Sunday. The contribution which is generally given at home is consumed on personal pleasure while away in vacations. There is nothing wrong with a family taking a vacation. However, Christians should be careful not to leave God out of their vacation plans. Here are some suggestions:
(1) Plan your vacation in order that you can worship with brethren while away from home. When my family travels, we sit down with a map and a directory of churches to plan where we will worship on Lord's day and mid-week. We enjoy the opportunity to meet new Christians while traveling.
(2) Leave your contribution at home. The local church's expenses will continue with you gone. The building payment, the utility bills, Bible class materials, preacher's support, and other expenses will continue just the same when you are away as when you are at home. A man would not think of leaving his family without money to live on while he is away on a business trip; he knows that the family's expenses and needs continue whether or not he is at home. Hence, he provides for them even when he is away. A Christian should take the same thought for the local church's expenses when he travels.
Not all of the absences from services relate to vacation traveling. There are couples who stay at home to cook out, take the children to little league games, and other summer activities. One would get the impression that the command not to forsake the assemblies (Heb. 10:25) has application only to the months of September through early June. Whatever the Bible teaches regarding one's responsibilities in the local church, it teaches for all of the year, including the summer months.
I too look forward to the summer. I am tired of shoveling snow and I am planning on baiting a hook or two to entice some nice, big bass somewhere. There are summer pleasures not available to us in the winter months which all of us can enjoy. However, let us be careful not to forget our responsibilities to God during the summer.
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 12, pp. 354, 376