The Appearance of the Unwasted Life, Part 1

Desiring God 2008 Regional Conference | San Luis Obispo

(The following are notes taken during the session, not a manuscript.)

If the gospel conquers my damnable position under the wrath of God, what does a redeemed life now look like?

The universe exists so that we may live in a way that demonstrates that Jesus is more precious than life.

Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you. (Psalm 63:3)

So there must be a way to live that looks like it.

The spillover of God's grace in our hearts is love towards others. One of the results of treasuring him is that we desire other people to enjoy him with us. Our vertical relationship with God begins to have horizontal dimensions.

We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.... I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. ( 2 Corinthians 8:1-2, 8)

Grace in the lives of the Macedonains (and in ours) results in joy and willing generosity. Notice their joy is in the midst of two opponents: affliction and poverty.

This is what we should expect, too. I don't believe in the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel. The call of the gospel is to a life that counts, not necessarily an easy life.

Circumstances weren't the source of their joy. In fact, their circumstances got worse. Their joy was God. They had come to see God in the gospel.

They were generous. They had fallen out of love with money. They begged earnestly for an opportunity to contribute to the needs of poor saints. Nobody will be saved or be impressed by Christian prosperity. I hate the prosperity gospel.

What makes Jesus look valuable is that you, in your love for Jesus, sacrifice yourself for the good of others so that it is unquestionably apparent that your treasure is not on this earth. How are you going to live a lifestye that doesn't just look like a carbon copy of the world.

But sacrifice in the cause of love is impressive and noteworthy.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

Good deeds are a part of helping others see the light. But note that our "light" is not good deeds only. Verses 11-15 show the context of our light. Our light is a rejoicing and a being glad in the day of persecution. What shines in the world is when you are being beat up by circumstances or other people and you don't murmur, grumble, or avenge yourself, but rejoice. That is the light and salt that people see. We are to be sorrowful, yet always rejoicing (2 Cor 6:10).

So the key to living an unwasted life is doing the kinds of deeds—and there are 10,000 of them—that flow from a heart that is embattled with difficulties, yet resting in Jesus Christ as its great reward.

Twenty Ways to Not Waste Your Life

Disclaimer: The methods that follow don't earn your favor with God. They flow from being already forgiven and cleansed.

1) Don't waste your suffering

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. (Romans 5:2-4)

Don't forsake the hope that God intends for suffering to produce in us. You have to have huge confidence in the sovereignty of God to do this.

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. (Colossians 1:24)

When Paul suffered as an apostle, he suffered in order to display Christ's pain in his body. Missionaries must suffer. It's part of the deal. We serve a crucified Savior.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

2) Don't waste your global calamities

There will be more, and they will hit closer to home.

The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. 9 They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.

10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish 11 and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds. (Revelation 16:8-11)

These people wasted their calamities. Calamities are meant by God to drive us to him. Pastors, you must speak up on these things when they happen, because your people will ask.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:18-23)

God has subjected the creation to futility in the hope that the disasters, the birth pangs, would serve as a parable to the moral disaster that mankind has gotten itself into. If the sin of mankind is the problem, why is flesh paying the price? It's a parable, a symbol and pointer to the moral mess that we've created.

And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. (Revelation 11:13)

An example of an unwasted disaster.

3) Don't waste your money

You have your money as a steward, not as an owner. You don't own anything, not even your bodies. You are a manager. Get the notion that you own things out of your head.

This means that your money is wasted if it does not acheive the purposes of its owner—God. You have been entrusted with money so that the way you use it will show that Jesus is more valuable than money. How will you do that? That's the challenge of life in America.

Jesus talks about money more than he talks about heaven, hell, or any other sin.

(Luke 6:20, 8:14, 9:58, 12:15, 31, 33, 14:33; Matt 6:19-20, 6:25; 2 Cor 6:9-10; Eph 4:28; 1 Tim 6:7-10, 18)

Christianity is not a come-and-see religion, where we build big monuments . It's a go-and-tell religion. Therefore it requires wartime simplicity.

Put a cap on your lifestyle or it will take you over. How would you do that if you had access to royalties from thirty books? I face that problem. I've signed away all of them to a foundation because I'm afraid of it! I want to go to heaven far more than I want to be rich.

4) Don't waste your robbery

Yesterday, NPR had the story of Julio Diaz who was robbed at knifepoint and treated his assailant how Jesus commanded us to love our enemies. I suspect Jesus may have been edited out of that story, but even if Diaz doesn't know Christ he's living off of Jesus fumes.

(John Piper finishes his list of 20 ways to not waste your life in part 2 of this message.)