Worldly Definition Without Hard Preaching

Worldly Definition Without Hard Preaching

We need a worldly definition that removes that feeling of guilt after listening to weekly sermons. Sometimes we just need to remember that the world isn’t all that bad.

Tags: worldly definition, worldliness, gratitude, worldly meaning, worldly wisdom


I was reading through some Christian blogs on my smartphone the other day. It wasn’t long before I found myself irritated. I wanted to throw my phone down in disgust, but I wasn’t sure why.

Moments after I set the phone down, I realized why I was upset… and it’s one of my least favorite aspects of being part of the community of believers in Jesus.

I was frustrated by the use of the word worldly by the authors. The word is frequently used to convey negativity and disapproval – often condemning typical earthly activities for the sake of the afterlife to come. It makes me feel guilty for enjoying anything other than attending regular services and participating in outreach to the poor.

Worldly Rather Than Spiritual Behavior

Women who follow the latest fashion trends are said to be worldly.

Men who drink beer with buddies and enjoy traveling the world in luxury are said to be worldly.

Anyone who attends clubs to let loose and dance the night away is considered worldly.

People who attempt to advance in their careers are considered ambitious and worldly in their pursuit to elevate themselves over others.

Worldly Possessions That Are Hard To Not Like

Fancy sports cars, expensive jewelry, mansions, and speed boats are all pretty cool. They are full of beauty and provide fun experiences.

Fancy jewelry is worn on wedding days and at black tie events to increase the significance of those important moments. Their inclusion at events make the occasions more memorable while introducing a level of respect by attendees. Crown jewels from noble dynasties are on display in museums around the world. Their display reminds us of the history of humanity while allowing us to connect with our civilized past.

We challenge ourselves to participate in sports like water skiing or water boarding behind motor boats. Being pulled by a 300-horsepower engine over a lake top is a unique experience – one that cannot occur unless someone owns the boat pulling that skier.

The world is full of luxurious things, and all are commonly portrayed with disapproval and disdain within the believing community. Believers commonly advocate that the money spent on such things could be used to do something to help ‘the poor.’

The implication is that any worldly item or behavior is void of a spiritual connection.

But a life without those things seems less refined, less exciting, less beautiful, and less spiritual. Are we really intended to live without special things for special moments and the unique experiences those things bring to our lives?

It’s hard for me to believe that God would inspire people in the creation of these things and infuse passion into our hearts for these activities while simultaneously condemning their very existence!

Worldliness Can't Be All Bad

I can’t blame Christians for their disapproval of worldly things. The bible is clear after all – stating the following
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John vs. 15)

The trouble is this…

If live solely with the purpose to avoid anything worldly, then we live only for the afterlife. Essentially – we live to just to die. But that implies our journey here on earth should be void of anything pleasant.

The gospel message is said to be one of hope and joy. After all, gospel is synonymous with 'good news.' But is it reasonable to believe a message instructing us to completely forego anything pleasant here on earth can be received with joy?

If so, we must believe that our years of practicing despair and suffering here on earth will suddenly transform into great joy upon reaching heaven. That doesn't seem likely to me.

I have noticed we are a product of what we develop in our lives. How will we possibly know how to experience joy in heaven if we’ve practiced only sorrow and despair on earth?

Worldly Wisdom From The Beginning

Let’s consider what happened on the 6th day, just after God completed creation. The bible states:
"God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good." (Genesis 1:31).


If everything in the world was very good just after creation, how can anything worldly be bad?

Another Word For Worldly: An Engineer's Perspective

I studied electrical and computer engineering at university. Through my studies, I came to appreciate great design. I view God as a master designer – delivering many impressive originals that include functionality, artistry, simplicity and beauty.

I understand worldly to mean the use of God’s creation outside of its designed purpose. Simply put – worldly means abusing something.

A Different Worldly Meaning For Each Of Us

Abuse occurs anytime a gift is used to separate someone from God or His ways.

Have you noticed it’s hard to find a list of worldly things? Here’s why – worldly is different for each one of us. Instead of presuming a universal list of worldly things exists, let’s recognize that each one of us has his or her own unique list of worldly things.

What are the things we are abusing in our own lives?

For example, let’s say I go out and enjoy a glass of beer with old friends to discuss some challenges around the office. My friends mentor me and guide me with advice about how they’ve handled similar circumstances. I leave the evening strengthened and encouraged by my friends – able to face the challenges at work with a renewed perspective of his difficulties. I have not demonstrated a worldly abuse of alcohol.

The alternative is I go out and drink enough glasses of beer to lose control. I can’t remember a thing from my conversations, and I fall down and injure myself before the night is over. Clearly, I have abused alcohol in this incident – in doing so, I demonstrated a worldly abuse of alcohol.

How does a woman develop a worldly view of fashion? She finds herself spending a fortune on the latest fashions and luxury hand bags. Fashion itself – designer handbags and dresses – are not responsible. Those items are expressions of creativity. They are part of the designer’s unique talents and passion – gifts that can only come from God. The items are used in a worldly way when a woman plunges into debt just to fulfill her desire to own such items.

If we maintain a healthy perspective to traditionally worldly things, those things do not represent worldliness in our own lives.

My Favorite Worldly Things

Today, I am announcing my gratitude for the following worldly gifts from God. These traditionally-labeled worldly things have brought a richness to my life without dividing me from God.

  1. Fine Wine. If you’re a wine enthusiast like me, you know the experience of sipping a fine wine from proper stemware is unlike any other. The fragrance, mystery, and complexity that wine offers the senses are awesome qualities.

    Those who have traveled to the world’s premier wine producing regions like Napa Valley, Burgundy, and Porto also know the beauty of land covered in vines.

    Experiencing wine by educating myself about its history, by visiting wine regions, and by drinking a glass from time to time allows me to enjoy a beverage in a unique way. It provides a richness to my life. I see God’s masterpiece in the mystery of the wine, the beauty of the vine, and the connection to ancestry through this ancient beverage. To me, wine is an example of God’s magic. I enjoy the pursuit of the next hidden treasure concealed behind a label I’ve yet to discover.


  2. Sports Cars. Fifteen years ago, I did something bold. Upon graduation – I accepted a job in a city where I had no family, no friends, and no familiarity. It was exciting. I met new friends and got settled into my new city.

    But something changed a few years later. The novelty started to wear off, and slowly the routine of life didn’t seem so glamorous. I lost my sense of purpose and direction. I knew I needed some inspiration, but I didn’t know where to look.

    Suddenly, something caught my eye while I was driving my Toyota Corolla to the gym one day. I spotted a little sports car out of the corner of my left eye I had never seen before. I didn’t know what kind of car it was, but I knew I had to find out.

    Lucky for me, I had a Japanese sports car enthusiast as a friend. With his help and some research, we discovered what had grabbed my attention – it was a Nissan 350z.

    I knew I had to have one. I had never held strong feelings for any vehicle, but this felt different. As I discovered more about the car, however, my hopes sank. I found the price of a new 350z was well beyond what I could afford on my salary at the time.

    What was I to do?

    I determined I would work up the courage to ask for a raise from my boss. It was scary. I was nervous, and I had to be bold. I built a compelling case (without mentioning the 350z), and I delivered it in person to my boss. Much to my delight – it worked! I was able to buy my LeMans Sunset 350z coupe!

    I realize that my initial motivation to might be considered worldy. But I felt excitement unlike I had ever felt before – it felt like that car was built for me. Its design still appeals to me, and it wasn’t a choice.

    I carry a treasured lesson the experience gave me. Buying the car forced me to grow. I have struggled with self-confidence much of my life. I had to step outside of my comfort zone to make the request for more pay. Stretching myself brought me confidence that I can meet similar challenges.

    I am more grateful for that lesson than the 8 years of fun I had driving the 350z. And you can be sure, I am thankful to God for helping me find favor enough in my boss’s eyes to grant my financial request.

  3. Exercise. We’re not supposed to judge one another based on looks; however, we all do. We may be able to control our conscious reactions to unsightly bodies, but our subconscious is constantly informing our views of the people we encounter.

    Many people consider those who regularly use gyms to be vain or narcissistic.

    Ever since I was young, though, I wanted to be in shape. My brother taught me how to lift weights during my college years. Since then, regular exercise has been a part of my life.

    I didn’t particularly enjoy going to the gym to lift weights and exercise, but I liked how I felt when leaving the gym after every workout. In fact, I used to hate going to the gym. But I felt the obligation to go – my body just did not feel the same without regular exercise.

    Now, however, I recognize that God has enabled me to exercise steadily all my years. He has provided me with strength and protected me from injury. I have heard horror stories of others who have injured themselves as adults – the result was rapid weight gain. They have never returned to good health.

    I am grateful to God for sustaining me physically and for placing the important activity of exercise into my routine. I may have felt forced to exercise in my youth, but now I am happy to do so to stay in shape and remain healthy.



3 Simple Steps To Enjoy The World Without Becoming Worldly

So what can we do to make sure we enjoy worldly possessions and activities without succumbing to worldliness?

We need to evaluate our relationship with worldly areas of life with respect to our relationship to God. Follow these steps:


  1. Determine your personal worldly list.

    Write out 3 items that are part of your own life style for which you have been made to feel guilty due to their labeling as ‘worldly.’ This could be anything typically labeled worldly such as fashion, money, jewelry, dancing, or going out for drinks with friends. The important factor is that each resonates as worldly to you.

  2. Evaluate your relationship with each item on your worldly list.

    Ask yourself whether or not the item divides you from God.

    For example, do you feel guilty after participating in an activity? Does the guilt prevent you from participating in your regular prayers? Are you spending excessive time with your car that is taking you away from moments you’d otherwise spend with your family? Do you do things you would not otherwise not do without this item in your life? If so those activities belong in the divisive group.

    Do you feel unbridled joy when participating in dance or while sharing your talents with others? Do you have little inclination to drink beyond sharing a single beer every so often while sharing time with friends? Do you have healthy respect and admiration for the expensive jewelry you’re fortunate enough to own – wearing it only on special occasions or enhance the beauty God has given you? If so, those activities belong in the non-divisive group.

  3. Address each listed item.

    For divisive items: Create a plan to limit its impact in your life. Perhaps commit to participating in those activities less frequently. Ask God to help you pull away from those behaviors and toward Him. Don’t try to quit completely – embrace the transition process that will increase your possibility at success.

    For non-divisive items: Praise God for the enrichment it adds to your life, and give thanks for enabling its presence in your life.



Conclusion: A Worldly Definition That Includes Enjoyment

Sometimes it feels bad to enjoy life as a Christian. Many authors and preachers are quick to apply the worldly label to things and activities that enrich our lives.

The key to understanding worldliness is to know how those possessions and activities affect our personal relationship with God.

If we find a possession or activity is dividing us from God, we must find a way to remove that item from our lives. However, if the possession or activity brings a sense of fulfillment and gratitude to our life as a gift from God, it does not deserve the label worldly.



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