Webster’s dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.” God knows we need to relax from time to time and just have fun, but we need to have clean and godly fun, not worldly, sinful fun. So is it wrong for Christians to have hobbies? Not necessarily. Hobbies themselves are neutral and are neither right nor wrong. The key is the attitude of the person participating in the hobby.
Paul wrote this, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17). He also wrote, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The true barometer for our hobbies should be whether or not they glorify God, whether or not we see them as gifts from God for which we are thankful, and whether or not they draw our attention away from Him. So much of our entertainment today is rooted in sin, glorifying it and feeding the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes. We have to be careful that our hobbies are not rooted in sin.
Hobbies can be wrong if we have them to escape from God or have them with the wrong attitude. We can participate in sports and enjoy the camaraderie and exercise sports provide. But if our competitive nature causes us to curse when we lose or play poorly, if we cheat on the scorecard, or if we begin to see our opponents as the enemy, then that would be wrong and not glorify God. The sports themselves are not wrong, but our participation in them becomes sinful because of our attitudes and approach to them. But if we enjoy these activities with an attitude of thanksgiving to God and participation in them does not hamper our relationship with Him, then the sport or hobby is a positive influence in our lives.
The temptation with hobbies is to use them as an escape from life and consequently from God. They can rob us of time, become idols in our lives, and distract us from our “regular occupation” of glorifying God in everything. We have amazing freedom in Christ, but Paul offered this caution: “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). We all know people who worship sports and watch the television for hours on end, especially on weekends. It is literally a religion for them. They know more batting averages than Bible verses and are more familiar with the lives of professional athletes than the life of Christ. Clearly, this is wrong and displeasing to God.
Again, hobbies are not necessarily wrong, but when they consume us and take our eyes off Christ, then they are definitely wrong. Even the most innocent hobbies that consume us are encumbrances that we must lay aside because they slow us down in our race, which is the Christian life (Hebrews 12:1). A good test is this: how important is this hobby to me? Is the Lord alone enough? If it were stripped away from me, would I still be content in Christ? So, yes, Christians can have hobbies, but we have to make sure they never replace Christ. That is the temptation, and we must be sure to avoid it.