Respectable Worldliness

By Donnie V. Rader

Worldliness is eating us alive. Like cancer that destroys the organs and then the whole body, worldliness is destroying God’s people. Oh, I’m not talking about the “ugly” worldliness that involves the forbidden things like drinking, cursing, lying and immorality. There is also worldliness that involves things that are not wrong within themselves. That makes it “respectable.” As long as what we are doing is not forbidden, we feel comfortable in doing it. Let’s explore the thought.

Demas had a problem with worldliness. Paul said, “Demas has forsaken me having loved the present world” (2 Tim. 4:10). There is nothing in this text to suggest that Demas loved anything that was sinful in and of itself. It was just that his love for the present life (the temporal over the spiritual) was misplaced. His priorities were wrong.

More and more I’m seeing Christians who wouldn’t think of participating in the forbidden worldliness like dancing, drinking, or immodesty, but are being consumed with another form of the same problem. Maybe the parable of the sower would help us better appreciate the point. Some seed fell among the thorns which represented those who are “choked with cares, riches and pleasures of life” (Luke 8:14). The cares, riches, and pleasures are not wrong in themselves, but they crowd out spiritual things in our lives.

The rat race we live in has robbed families of time that they need together just to be families. Our involvement in sports, school activities, our jobs, and our care for our-selves at times crowd in on our service to God. Evidence is seen in attendance. We miss for things that wouldn’t keep us from work or school. As I travel in meetings I see more and more occasions when the local members don’t show up during the meeting. They have other things to do.

Minor aches and pains keep us away from the service. If we are tired or have a slight sniffle that’s enough to not be at worship. When we keep our children home for “sickness” that they themselves know is minor or not contagious, they are learning how to be worldly.

We see this spirit displayed in the apathy that some have. When our care and concern for material things like cars, clothes, houses, and money exceeds interest in the gospel and spiritual things, worldliness has already taken its toll. When greater preparation is given to see that our children have their homework than to learning their Bibles, worldly minded.

In meetings I’m disappointed to see that members think nothing of taking their vacation time during the meeting and miss most, if not all, of the services. We allow our teenage children (whose working is for extra spending money) to work and miss services during meetings (to say nothing of the regular times on Sunday and Wednesday).

In some places it is difficult to find to a good time to schedule a meeting or VBS. If it conflicts with ball games or other personal plans, attendance may be slim or some of the young folks and their parents may be frustrated.

Learning to get our priorities straight would go a long way toward solving our problem. Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). Peter told his readers to “sanctify the Lord God in your heart” (1 Pet 3:15). May we grow in our fear of God. As someone said long ago, “The main things is to keep the main thing, the main thing!” I say, “Amen!”

Guardian of Truth XL: No. 22, p. 5
November 21, 1996