Board Games Make Me Sin

Published on May 3, 2010 by CT in Blog, Stories

10

This past weekend was my wife’s birthday.  Her favorite kind of birthday party is one in which she hosts her friends, so that’s what we did on Saturday.  We held the party at my brother’s house, and Anna cooked her amazing enchiladas, and many of our friends, mostly married couples, came over to celebrate.

Christian, married couples play games; I think that’s part of being married.  I think these games must be social lubricant for a bunch of couples that don’t go out and party anymore.  We brought Apples to Apples and Taboo, and both saw a little action.  Apples to Apples is essentially an individual game, and for Taboo, we went guys vs. girls.

Everyone had a good time, and the night ended well, with my brother emerging as the victor in A2A and the girls triumphing in Taboo.  But it was interesting to notice the hearts on display throughout the night:  Lying, cheating, accusing, over-competitiveness, self-justifying, holding grudges, incredulity, boasting.  And that was just me.  The list makes it sounds much worse than it seemed.  Most of these were masked in laughter or sarcasm and seemed harmless at the time.

Here’s what the people in the room may have seen from me that night:

  • Playfully making a case to bend the rules in my favor but not others
  • Mock indignation told through jokes
  • A friendly sense of competition

Here’s what God saw in my heart:

  • Hypocrisy
  • Pride
  • Desire to exalt myself

We know that the inward workings of the heart are the source for the outward workings of our bodies.  Or to say this another way:  our motives drive our actions.  When we sin, we often focus on the external sin itself rather than considering the heart motive that led us into sin.  We see the fruit, whether good or bad, without considering the root.  But we’re blind to these motives and impotent at uprooting the dead roots on our own.

Fortunately, God does see and God does show.  “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).  His word pierces and discerns and reveals the thoughts and intentions of the heart that we would never see.  Our only chance to sever the root of sin is to see our hearts as God sees them and put our faith in His power to destroy the evil He reveals.

This is not a passive action; the writer to the Hebrews says we should “strive to enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:11), which is consistent with “work[ing] out our salvation (Philippians 2:12).  And putting our faith in God is active as well.  But Paul gives us the key to actively persevering in righteousness:  “…for it is God who works in you” (Philippians 2:13).

So games are mirrors for our hearts, as are relationships, as are many other things in our lives.  But the best mirror is the word of God which penetrates the impenetrable, making known to us what is seen by the God who sees all things, so we can repent and He can purify a heart that is already free from condemnation but one which needs regular cleansing.

Ultimately, we’re not quitting games; there’s nothing wrong with the games themselves.  But next time, I will put my faith in a God who will reveal the thoughts and intentions of my heart so that they, and my actions, might honor Him.

Question:  What sins do you see surfacing when you compete?

  • Todd

    lurking for a while here, but this was too timely not to answer your question…

    Wow – timely for me… my 5 yr old son has recently learned about the card game "War" from a friend. Last night I taught him how to play, and found myself tempted to cheat in order to beat him… My thoughts: "What in the world am I thinking? It's a stupid game of chance, and he's 5…" My actions: slip the Ace into the right spot so I'm sure to win the war (he's not paying attention and doesn't notice. Besides, why would he be worried about his Dad trying to cheat him???)…. My emotion: Shame…

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Chris_Tomlinson Chris_Tomlinson

      There's a little bit of Jacob in both of us. Thanks for sharing–this is a classic story. I'll remember it when the inclination comes over me one day as I'm racing my kid or playing some game =).

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Chris_Tomlinson Chris_Tomlinson

      There's a little bit of Jacob in both of us. Thanks for sharing–this is a classic story. I'll remember it when the inclination comes over me one day as I'm racing my kid or playing some game =).

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Chris_Tomlinson Chris_Tomlinson

      There's a little bit of Jacob in both of us. Thanks for sharing–this is a classic story. I'll remember it when the inclination comes over me one day as I'm racing my kid or playing some game =).

  • http://www.christiancognition.blogspot.com Mike

    Chris, I love it! "Lying, cheating, etc…and that was just me."

    Regarding Taboo, here's my tale. A man named Willis would visit our family just about every year around Christmas. He'd stay for about a week or so, and then move on to his next stop. I loved having him around, and loved joking with him. When we played Taboo I loved sitting next to him and buzzing the bejeebers out of him…cuz he was so slow at thinking up the right words he could use, let alone be fast enough to think them thru. I thought I was such the man, earning points for my team for certain victory. Well, Grandpa Willis Lee died a few years ago and we all still laugh about those fun nights buzzing him in Taboo and watching his big, fat belly bounce when he laughed with us. Poor ol' guy. I sure do miss buzzing him.

    Great post, as always brother. I love how you connect your wit with the Word.
    My recent post THE WORLD TURNED UPSIDE-DOWN:

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/lauradroege lauradroege
  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/lauradroege lauradroege

    Truthfully, I have never really enjoyed competition, other than with myself. I tend to avoid games at all costs. Last time my hubby, 7 year old and myself played Monopoly (which should be called Monotony), I deliberately lost. I bought up all the property possible and sold it to my daughter for the lowest possible price just so I could get out of it ASAP.

    The sin? Selfishness. I wanted time to do what I wanted to do rather than spend time doing what my child wanted to do. (This same child once complained, "Mommy, we haven't played in YEARS…ever since you started writing your novel." Ouch.)
    My recent post Laura and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (or why I want to move to Australia)

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/lauradroege lauradroege

    Truthfully, I have never really enjoyed competition, other than with myself. I tend to avoid games at all costs. Last time my hubby, 7 year old and myself played Monopoly (which should be called Monotony), I deliberately lost. I bought up all the property possible and sold it to my daughter for the lowest possible price just so I could get out of it ASAP.

    The sin? Selfishness. I wanted time to do what I wanted to do rather than spend time doing what my child wanted to do. (This same child once complained, "Mommy, we haven't played in YEARS…ever since you started writing your novel." Ouch.)
    My recent post Laura and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (or why I want to move to Australia)

  • http://awkwardchristianity.com Jonathan Romig

    Checkmate! lol. Hey Chris, at the Colorado Christian Writer's Conference. Hope all is well. I liked the article since I do game nights often. My motivation is to bring people together for fellowship, and I know game nights will do that. However, watching how we do it is important. Thanks for that reminder!

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/ruach ruach

    As soon as I read this, I wanted to mention the sins that I see in a few family members when we play games together. But, since you (and God) ask about my sins–pride, judgmental attitude, anger, pettyness, unforgiveness. Sigh!