A few years ago, while at a ladies convention I purchased a book authored by John Piper titled “Don’t Waste Your Life.” It begins this way on the back cover:
“I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider this story from the February 1998 Readers Digest: ‘A couple took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago 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…’ Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgement: ‘Look, Lord. See my shells.’ That is a tragedy.”
Since reading that introduction to John Piper’s fine book, I have returned to it occasionally to ponder the usefulness of my own life.
Having raised four sons over the course of 34 years and working in various aspects of caregiving for 20 years, I entered retirement six years ago. My focus now rests more fully on God and learning His Word and His ways. Along with that is husband care, pet care, house care and pursuing my newfound hobby of sewing. And yes, caring for myself. Perhaps too much of the latter.
The apostle Paul reminds us:
“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
So there it is. Those who have been called by God, by grace, through faith in the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, are obligated to glorify God with every part of the heart, soul, and mind. When we were separated from the world onto Him, we were set on the path which is in the opposite direction from the one we had been traveling on. Instead of running from God, we are to run towards God.
Perhaps while traveling on this path you have stumbled a bit over your own feet. I know I have. Then I am prone to sit on the sidelines. This activity, or rather lack of activity, is oftentimes desirable to an introverted individual such as myself but has no eternal value or Kingdom value on earth. So what is the appropriate response?
Consider the cost. Abraham obediently placed His beloved son Isaac on the altar and was prepared to sacrifice him to God when suddenly God saved Isaac from impending death by offering a substitute. Now consider God the Father, summoning His only Son Jesus, to take that place on the altar, but this time, there is no substitute for His Son. All humanity has sinned against God and we rightly deserve to die as a result of those sins. (Romans 6:23) As God provided a substitute to take the place of Isaac, so He provided a substitute to take the place of us. Even while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. And this is the great love God has towards His children. The dramatic scene of Abraham and Isaac on a mountain in the land of Moriah was a type and shadow of the future sacrifice of God’s perfect Lamb whose death paid our sin debt.
Understand your identity in Christ.
Second Corinthians 5:17: Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold, the new has come.
Gone are the days of living for self and being controlled by our sinful desires. The indwelling Holy Spirit of God works continually to conform us to the image of God. We must respond to the inner prompting of the cleansing work of God. When we respond with repentance and obedience and endeavor to live a life of praise and thanksgiving, the more we will experience the power of the Holy Spirit and the greater usefulness we will be to the King of Kings. With God’s help we will crucify the old man daily and live more fully as one who follows Jesus.
Glorify God in your body
Often we are more committed to the purposes of our own kingdom than the purposes of the Eternal Kingdom. Every place we go and everything we do and say, let it all be for the glory of God. Present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. (Romans 6:13)
Live a life wholly committed to the Lord and be zealous for good works. (Titus 2:14)
Good works are so vital to the life of a Christian that James, our Lord’s brother declared: Faith without works is dead. (James 2:26) Our works testify of our faith in Jesus Christ and are able to ignite faith in others as they see our good works. Good works bless others and display the love of God.
Good works benefit the Kingdom of God on the earth and they also reap eternal rewards. Let’s consider 1 Corinthians 3:10 where Paul says: According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. Verse 12: Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or straw-13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. Verse 14: If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survived (signified by gold, silver, and precious stones) he will receive a reward. Verse 15: If anyone’s work is burned up (signified by the wood, hay or straw) he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
This is the eternal outcome of our works, either good or bad on the day we stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:10: We must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
It is a judgement of God based on His reward system and not a judgement that brings condemnation. The judgement of condemnation pertains to the unbeliever when he stands before the Great White Throne of Judgement. (Revelation 20:11-15) Praise God that we have escaped that judgement! If not for the grace of God, that would be the destiny of all people.
Let us go out and by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, snatch our neighbors, our friends, our acquaintances, strangers and even our enemies, if possible, from the judgement that leads to condemnation.
And may our lives reflect the glory of God!