Don’t Waste Your Life (Part 1)

John 12:42-43; Psalm 116:15; Mark 8:35


Did you know that it is possible, even as a Christian, to waste your life? Well, it is. Most Christians want to live their lives as comfortable as possible. I’m guilty as charged! Additionally, we want to live in a manner that makes us attractive to the world. In other words, we want to be liked by our peers! Once again, guilty. According to John Piper, most Christians are satisfied if they have “a good job with a good wife, or husband, and a couple of good kids and a nice car and long weekends and a few good friends, a fun retirement, and a quick and easy death, and no hell.”[i] In other words, “Let me just enjoy this life as best I can and make it to heaven, and I will be satisfied.” Piper contends that this is a tragedy—a wasted life.

In John 12:42-43 Jesus charged many of the Jews with not being willing to follow Him because of the Pharisees. The reason was their fear of the Pharisees. Why were they afraid of these religious leaders? It was because the Pharisees had the power to kick them out of the synagogue which was the center of Jewish culture. Jesus pointed to their heart problem when he said, “For they loved praise from men more than praise from God!” Are you living for the praise of men or the praise of God? I believe that the answer you give to this question will determine whether or not you waste your life.

In John Piper’s book entitled, Don’t Waste Your Life, he shares the following story.[ii]

In April of 2000, Ruby Eliason and Laura Edwards were killed in Cameroon, West Africa. Ruby was over eighty. Single all her life, she poured her life out for one great cause: to make Jesus Christ known among the unreached, the poor, and the sick. Laura was a widow, a medical doctor, and she was pushing eighty years old, and serving at Ruby’s side in Cameroon. One day these two elderly ladies were riding in their car on another mission effort when the brakes failed, the car went over a cliff, and they were both killed instantly. The world looks at this and says, “What a tragedy!” The question we need to answer is this: “Was this a tragedy?” Two lives, driven by one great passion, namely, making Jesus Christ known in a foreign country—even two decades after most of their American counterparts had retired to throw away their lives on unimportant matters. This was not a tragedy!

Psalm 116:15 declares “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” These two lives were not wasted and they were not lost. Mark 8:35 states, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.”

Do you want to know what a tragedy is? The February 1998 edition of Reader’s Digest, tells about a couple who “took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years earlier when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball, and collect shells.”[iii] They are living the American dream. What is the American Dream? Live a good life. Save up for retirement. Then move to somewhere like Florida and indulge yourself for the rest of your life. Piper puts it like this, “Think about it…you come to the end of your life—the one life that God has given you to prepare for eternity with Him and what do you do with it? You let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells. Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: ‘Look, Lord. See my shells?’ That is a tragedy. And people are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. Over against that, I put my protest: Don’t buy it. Don’t waste your life.”[iv]

If you want to stand before the Lord one day and hear Him, say, “Well done my good and faithful servant,” then take my advice. Don’t waste your life. Don’t believe the lie that is called the American dream. The American dream is all about self. To live the American dream is to waste your life. Don’t waste your life!

[i] John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton: Crossway, 2003), 45.
[ii] Ibid., 45.
[iii] Ibid., 45-46.
[iv] Ibid., 46.