Key Scriptures: Daniel 6, Psalm 90:12, Ephesians 5:16, Colossians 4:5, Galatians 6:9-10, James 1:5, Isaiah 40:31, Philippians 4:8, Ephesians 2:10, Colossians 3:2, 1 Timothy 6:17-19, Matthew 5:16, James 2:14-17, James 4:17, Matthew 25:31-46, James 1:27, 1 Peter 3:13-17, Galatians 5:14, Isaiah 1:17, John 15:5, Mark 6:30-32. 1 Corinthians 6:12, Galatians 5:13, Proverbs 25:16, Proverbs 23:20-21, Proverbs 25:28, Galatians 5:23
Guiding Question: How does God want us to spend our leisure time?
Optional Introductory Activity: Show students the list of possible ways to spend leisure time they created for the last lesson. Have them point out which ones they think God would approve of them doing during their leisure time. Are there any more things they can add?
Lesson: (Questions for students are in bold italics.) In the last lesson, we talked about some of the ways God may not want us to spend our leisure time. Today, we want to look at some ways God might want us to spend our free time. Read Daniel 6. What was one of the ways Daniel spent some of his free time? What happened when he was caught spending time that way?
Daniel spent some of his free time praying. There were probably other things he did during his spare time, but praying was something to do that was problematic in Daniel’s world. Even though he was spending his time in ways God would want, he was still thrown in the lions’ den. God protected him, but it probably still wasn’t the best night of his life!
Because we live in a fallen world, life isn’t always just or fair. Making good choices may have temporary negative consequences. Why do you think Daniel chose to pray during his free time, even though it could cause him to be killed? Why do you think God allowed Daniel to be thrown in the lions’ den for doing something that made God happy? It is important for us to make the choices God would want us to make, even if those choices have negative earthly consequences given by people doing ungodly things.
Sometimes spending our leisure time in ways that make God happy can have negative consequences. Most of the time though, spending time in doing those things will make our lives better, richer, fuller and more meaningful. Many of the things God wants us to do are actually broad categories…giving us to choose the things within those areas that are interesting to us. So what are some of these broad areas in which God wants us to spend our leisure time?
General Principles: There may be something you want to do in your free time that doesn’t fall into one of the categories that we will talk about. In God’s eyes, it may be something that is good for us, bad for us or neutral. God gave us some guidelines for testing activities to see if they are productive ways to spend our free time. Read Psalm 90:12, Ephesians 5:16, Colossians 4:5 and Galatians 6:9-10. What general principles does God want us to consider when we are deciding how to spend our free time? Can you apply those principles to a couple of popular leisure time activities and come to some conclusions about whether or not they are good ways to spend your time?
Spiritual disciplines. God wants us to spend some of our free time with Him. He wants to have a relationship with us. He wants us to learn how He wants us to live our lives. He wants us to talk to Him. He wants us to meditate on His words. Read Colossians 3:2 and John 15:5. What do these verses tell us about spending time with God? What is one of the benefits of spending time with God according to these verses? What other benefits can you think of that come from participating in spiritual disciplines with some of your leisure time? Can you find scriptures to support your ideas?
Sabbath type rest. While Christians don’t celebrate the Sabbath in the same ways the Israelites did, God still wants his people to rest. Not just sleep, although that is a big part of rest, but rest in ways that truly restore us. Read Mark 6:30-32. The Apostles had just come back from a mission Jesus had sent them on. They were tired, but people kept coming for healing and teaching. Jesus told them it was time for them to go away and rest. They were delayed for a bit, but eventually Jesus made sure they got that rest. Read Isaiah 40:31. What do you think it means to wait for the Lord? Why does that renew our strength?
Some of the elements of traditional Sabbath rest can work for us as well. Sabbath rest usually included a cessation of all normal daily work, including chores. Sounds great, doesn’t it! If you can’t avoid work for an entire day, try to find several hours. The Sabbath also included activities like worshipping God, reading scriptures, short walks and other restful activities. Some have suggested Christians might want to use this time for creative pursuits, admiring God’s creation or looking at beautiful things made by people who were gifted by God in art. Others enjoy listening to beautiful, soothing music or the sounds of nature. Some people like reading books that teach them something new. What doesn’t work, according to brain science, is being on screens, watching movies, playing video games and other mindless pursuits we sometimes think will help. It’s not that you should never do those things, it’s just that they aren’t necessarily going to help you in any way.
Surrounding ourselves with positive things. Read Philippians 4:8. What are some of the types of things God wants us to surround ourselves with? Name some leisure time pursuits that would help you live out this verse. What are some things you could do that probably aren’t the best way to obey this verse?
Serve God, especially by serving others and sharing our faith. Read James 1:5, Ephesians 2:10, 1 Timothy 6:17-19, Matthew 5:16, James 2:14-17, Matthew 25:31-46, James 1:27, Isaiah 1:17 and Galatians 5:14. What are some specific ways or types of people God wants us to serve during part of our free time? Why? Can you think of different ways to do these things?
Taking care of your family. Read 1 Timothy 5:8. There are many different ways to help take care of your family. I’m this particular passage, Paul is primarily referring to people refusing to pay the expenses of poor, elderly parents. At your age, helping take care of your family may look more like doing your chores and helping with the work around your home. Some of you may have part time jobs to help pay your family expenses or to help pay your tuition to trade school or college in the future. Can you think of other ways to take care of your family in your free time?
Take care of your health. Read 1 Corinthians 10:31, 1 Timothy 4:8. God wants us to take good care of our bodies. It only makes sense that if we are as healthy as we can be, we will have more strength and energy to serve Him. Even people in the poorest of health serve God, but it’s much easier to do if you feel healthy. What are things you can do in your free time to be healthy?
Fun. Read 1 Corinthians 6:12, Galatians 5:13, Proverbs 25:16, Proverbs 23:20-21, Proverbs 25:28 and Galatians 5:23. What about having fun during our spare time? There is nothing in the Bible that says we can’t occasionally do something that is just for fun. I’m fact some of the other things we have already discussed can be fun. The trouble is when we fill all of our free time with meaningless, fun activities. These verses tell us that even eating can be sinful if not done in moderation. What does moderation mean to God? What are some fun things to do that should probably only be done in moderation? Can you think of other scriptures that apply to this discussion?
Skills Activity: Review the main parts of the lesson. Bring in various members of the congregation to share their favorite ways to spend leisure time. If you have the ability, give each person a table. Encourage them to bring supplies and examples. Have them think of a small way the students can experiment with their activity. While they are working with a group of students, encourage them to share other godly ways they spend free time, how they use this particular activity to minister to others (if they do) and/or some tips they have for students on topics covered in the lesson. It can be helpful to give them a copy of the lesson to help them with conversational topics.
Allow enough time for students to rotate amongst the tables and try different things. Try to include as wide of a variety as possible. You may even want to include things like someone who does scripture journaling, cooks healthy meals or has other unique pursuits that were mentioned in the lesson. Encourage the adults to develop mentoring relationships with students who appear to have similar interests or talents.
Application Challenge: Look back at the journal you kept of how you spent your time in the first part of this lesson. What are some of the things you do currently that could be replaced with better options? Try some new ideas you learned during the lesson whenever you have free time.