Armour for Family Worship: Of Perishable and Imperishable Wreaths

1 Corinthians 9:25

Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

(Hymn: O Speed Thee, Christian, on Thy Way [Bradfield])

As a family, our exposure to the TV is remarkably limited. We essentially use it for playing the occasional video, and for those rare occasions when there is actually something that might be worth watching. In my opinion, we have the perfect setup. We live in an area that has horrible reception, and the rabbit-ears antenna behind the TV is so limited that we can get no more than five channels of decent reception – and that’s on a good day. So, as you might imagine, the TV is a very limited tool in our home. Don’t feel bad for us, this is more by design than anything else – I like it just the way it is.

The reason why I’m so content that our TV is disfunctional, hard to use and generally something to avoid in our home is this: most television programming today is a cesspool of filth and therefore not worth the time (I’m sorry, am I beating around the bush here?). Amazingly, what has become in our culture a surrogate baby sitter is in reality a device that can fill children with enough filth in a short amount of time sufficient to pollute their minds for a lifetime. Of course, this is not only true regarding television, but every form of media (even highway billboard signs) will either be a vehicle for that which is useful, or more frequently, for that which is utterly vile and reprehensible. As parents, we need to train our children so that they will be wise about the world, without their becoming corrupted by their knowledge of it. Such a philosophy of teaching finds its corollary in the Savior’s training of the disciples:

Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves.”

In this text we have a very important example for a pedagogy of discernment and wisdom. When you think about it, the goal of the parent is the same: to raise children into young adulthood so that they can someday enter into the world as discerning disciples of Christ; and this we do, knowing that this world is filled with many ravenous wolves. What we don’t want to do is to send them out as naïve sheep who are so illiterate about the world around them that they have no way of coping with modern society, and its worldly ways. On the other hand, we don’t want to expose them so extensively to the ills of this planet that we end up corrupting them in the process; therefore, the great challenge for parents is to teach their children discernment, but in a way that seeks to preserve their innocence in relation to worldly corruption.

Just using the TV (or movies) as an example, I find that the problems which prevail in even some of the better programs today can still be used as opportunities to learn about the world in which we live, and how we can apply the wisdom of God’s Word in relation to life. Consider for a moment the winter Olympics. Now I don’t have to name names and list circumstances here in order to suggest that there have been several examples of both good and bad sportsmanship. As it is always the case, you will have those who by God’s grace (common or special) are able to maintain good diligence and dignity in their competition; while others behave themselves like immature children for the whole world to see. As a family, we have had a few moments to watch the games and then discuss them, after all, such life examples can be turned to Scriptural life lessons very easily:

  • We Have a Great Need for Seriousness, Diligence and Godly Priorities: 1 Corinthians 9:25: Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
  • We Have a Great Need to Focus on Christ Throughout Life: Hebrews 12:1-2: 1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
  • We Have a Great Need to Forget What Lies Behind Us in the Race of Life: Philippians 3:13: 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead I press on toward the goal for the prize…

These NT texts remind us that the picture of an athlete competing in a race serves as an important illustration concerning the Christian’s diligence with the Gospel, His fixation on Christ alone and His need to be undistracted by past offenses that have been forgiven by Christ. It also supplies a very real contrast concerning those whose race in life is focused upon the acquisition of a perishable wreath rather than the imperishable one. Sadly, many in America (and the world) literally worship sports, and the Olympic contests offer no small supply of such examples. One young lady, in a recent interview, joyfully confessed that her sport was her life. This is of course sad; but as sad as it is, it is still a very real picture of the world itself. But let us not fixate on just one idol here – whether it is a sport, a career, money, hobbies, relationships or the pursuit of an education, life does boil down to this simple construct: there are only two wreaths – the perishable and the imperishable. Lessons such as these are profitable and enable us to bring the central principles of the Gospel to our children for the sake of their salvation, discernment and purity in life.

A Hymn of Meditation: O Speed Thee, Christian, on Thy Way
Tune by Jean Baptiste Calkin

~ Bradfield ~

1 O speed thee, Christian, on thy way,

And to thy armour cling;

With girded loins the call obey

That grace and mercy bring.

2 There is a battle to be fought,

An upward race to run,

A crown of glory to be sought,

A victory to be won.

3 O faint not, Christian, for thy sighs

Are heard before His throne;

The race must come before the prize,

The cross before the crown.

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