If you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full … Some of you will die in the service of Christ. That will not be a tragedy. Treasuring life above Christ is a tragedy … It’s easy to slip through life without taking any risks — without making your life count. But life ought not to be wasted. You don’t need to know a lot of things to make a lasting difference in the world, but you do have to know the few, great, unchanging, and glorious things that matter and be willing to live and to die for them. (Don’t Waste Your Life, John Piper)
We want to live and to die treasuring Christ above all else. We want to live for the great and glorious things that matter. Yet, we fall prey to this conflicting desire:
We also crave a wound-free life.
And the wound-free life’s allure tugs with force, touted by the false claims of the world around us. Oh, but we musn’t be fooled. The wound-free life delivers no real life at all. The wound-free life — the life committed to self-gratification, self-protection, self-promotion — is the life of loss. Piper’s powerful words paraphrase Jesus’ own:
If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. (Matthew 10:39)
I do want a life given to Christ. A life that counts. An unwasted life. But if you’re like me, you sometimes wonder: Do I really have what it takes to follow the Lord in ways that bring Him honor? I fear I don’t. I know that in my on strength, I certainly do not.
Ah. That’s the whole point, though. I’m not expected to give up my life in my own strength. I’m to cling to Jesus. For He sticks closer than a brother. And He reassures that:
… He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (I John 4:4)
With God’s Spirit within me, I can know that when I face hardship or loss because I’m living to make others glad in God, I need not fear. I’ve actually been granted the honor of growing in my faith. And in the trial, my endurance will grow. My faith will multiply. My joy will abound.
… when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow …
When we fight the desire to live a wound-free life, and instead live fully for Christ, we learn that we’re never alone. We’re awakened to the lavish care of our generous God. When weakness and discouragement, or fear and inability hasten our way, we don’t have to merely hunker down. We don’t have to forge through in our own puny strength. We instead ask for the wisdom we need:
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. (James 1:2-5, italics mine)
Oh, child of the Father, trust Him. Follower of Jesus, commit to Him. To make a lasting difference in the world, lose your life for Christ. And in the losing, gain it.
For we need not fear the way of wounds.
We need only fear the path of waste.