God never says, “Thou shalt not have fun, nor shalt thou smile in all thy days.” Having a good time is not a sin, but we should pay attention to the principles God has laid out for godly living when we do engage in leisure activities. First and foremost is Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” When we are relaxing and having fun or when we are seeking entertainment, we should always make sure these activities are pleasing God.
Things like food, wine, money, etc., are morally neutral. Wine, for example, is neither good nor evil. It’s what we do with it that makes it so. Paul points out that “…if food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do” (1 Corinthians 8:8). He immediately follows this, however, with an important instruction we should apply to all our activities, including fun and entertainment. “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Corinthians 8:9). Our freedom to relax and enjoy our lives should never cause others to stumble in their faith. A classic example is that we should not serve wine at dinner if we have invited someone who is a recovering alcoholic. We should follow Paul’s lead, “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:19, 22).
God also does not want us to be under the influence of unbelievers. We may associate with them, as Christ did when He sat at dinner with sinners and tax collectors, but we should not allow ourselves to be influenced by them. Paul writes, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” (2 Corinthians 6:14-15). For example, a man shouldn’t go with his buddies for a round of golf if he should be spending time building his relationship with his wife or if their conversations are coarse or profane. We should be living for God in all things, and we should be able to have the strength to say “No!” when someone tries to take us away from that.
According to Colossians 3:17, we should also give thanks to God through Jesus Christ for the fun and entertainment He provides. Someone once pointed out that “recreation” means to “re-create” or “renew.” God allows us this time to be renewed and to grow in our faith. James tells us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). Fun and entertainment are gifts of God, given so that we might come closer to Him. We should remember this when we are planning our recreation and remember to thank God for such a good and perfect gift.