If the title of this article sounds familiar to you, it is because I borrowed it from John Piper. You may be familiar with his well known book, Don’t Waste Your life, or the lesser known Don’t Waste Your Cancer. In these two books Piper pleads with us never to lose sight of what is truly important in life (or in the midst of serious illness). A life of self-centered materialism is a life wasted. A life lived for the glory of God, is the only life that is ultimately meaningful and fulfilling. The current nationwide lockdown has been devastating economically, and emotionally it has been trying, but it has also been illuminating, especially for the Christian sensitive to the state of their hearts. It has been illuminating because as we look back at the way we’ve been using our time, it exposes our appetites, it exposes what we delight in, what we find precious, what we covet.
The Psalmist speaks of delighting in the law of the Lord (the Scriptures) and as a result he meditated on it day and night (Psalm 1:2). After 5 weeks of lockdown, I find myself asking the question; “Do I really delight in the word of God?” Usually when we don’t make time to study and meditate on the word of God, we feel justified (wrongly) in reminding ourselves that we just haven’t had the time. But with all the time we have recently had at our disposal, how much of it have we spent digging into the rich treasures God has provided for us in the Scripture? Can we honestly say that we delight in God’s word, when we’ve been able to find time to indulge in various other activities, while neglecting the Bible?
Similar questions arise in terms of prayer, specifically our prayers for one another. How faithful have we been in petitioning God for the needs of fellow church members? Have we been so preoccupied with our own wants, needs and anxieties, that we have become insensitive to the needs of God’s people. What does that say about us, and our love for one another? Have we been zealous to “do good works” or have we been interested only in what we need to do to ensure we get through this period of isolation and how we are going to weather the economic pressures on the horizon? How have we served one another, loved one another and borne one another’s burdens?
These are difficult questions. They challenge and convict us, but should not leave us feeling condemnation and despair. It is an opportunity to learn, an opportunity to grow, yes even an opportunity for repentance, but most of all, this is an opportunity to re-evaluate who we are and what we’re living for. As John Piper argues in Don’t waste your life; the Christian’s greatest desire and ambition in life should be to glorify God. In John 15 Jesus gives an excellent illustration of the Christian life, and specifically how our good works glorify the Father, as they flow out of a real relationship with the Lord Jesus. Jesus explains that He is the Vine, the Father is the Vinedresser and we are the branches. In our union with Christ we draw from Him the life-giving sap, that produces the fruits of righteousness in our lives. And let us not forget the Father, who acts as a vinedresser, gently pruning and tending to us (the branches) ensuring maximum fruitfulness in the lives of believers.
It is this picture that I want you to have in mind as we examine our hearts now and confess our sins to our merciful Father. Telling you to do better, giving you a checklist to remind yourself to “fulfill your Christian duty” is not helpful and it is not what you need. What you need, what I need, is to be reminded of our identity as Christians. Let me remind you of the words of the Apostle Paul: “You were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor. 6:20, ESV) We should not be surprised at the way unbelievers are spending this time in self-indulgence, being led by nothing but their sinful flesh, simply acting out their nature as slaves to sin and Satan. However, as Paul makes clear, you believer, have been bought with a price. As Peter says in his first epistle; this is not a price paid with silver or gold, the price paid was infinitely more precious, in fact, there is nothing more precious in the sight of God, than the One whose blood was the payment that set you free from both the penalty and the power of sin. The Lord Jesus Christ was the price, a spotless Lamb, sacrificed on behalf of a wicked people. For this reason, says Paul, you no longer belong to yourself (see 1 Cor. 6:19), you belong to God and the very reason for your existence is to glorify Him.
The unregenerate man recoils at the thought of being called the possession of another, being told that he must subject himself to God. But those who have recognized the truth of the gospel and embraced the Lord Jesus Christ as their Sacrifice and their Righteousness, they rejoice at the prospect of serving their King. Their greatest pleasure is to serve and honour Him. They hunger and thirst for righteousness and delight to do His will. Instead of telling you to “pull up your socks” and “act more like a Christian”, I simply want to urge you at this time, look to Christ, look to the cross, consider what he’s done and give yourself in service to your King.
Don’t waste your lockdown. Pray that God in His infinite mercy would use this time to conform you, more and more, into the image of His Son. Study your Bibles, devote yourselves to prayer and good works, not because you believe that will save you, but because you love and cherish the one who died for you, who shed His own blood for your souls.
May the Lord Bless you in your service to Him.