Waste Not, Want Not

Don't Waste Your LifeAbout five weeks ago, I started a new study with my ladies’ Bible study group. Generally, I can’t wait to share my insights with my readers, yet this time…I’m hesitant. It isn’t that I haven’t seen glimpses of Jesus, because I have. But, I’ve also struggled with finding where I fall on the growth spectrum. You know what I mean. Looking at myself through the lens of the study, where do I fall short? Where do I measure up? What must I do to lessen the chasm between the two?

The author of this study is John Piper and the book is Don’t Waste Your Life. If I were the only woman in this group uncomfortable with the study, I’d chalk it up to my own issues. Blame it on hormones, lack of sleep or a season of general uneasiness. But that’s not the case. So, then, what is the real issue?

I wouldn’t presume to speak for the other ladies, but for me, I think part of it is that I can’t tell if my discomfort comes from conviction or something else. If I were to take John Piper at face value, then nothing less than complete capitulation would suffice in order for me to feel as if I measure up in the Lord’s eyes. But where’s the grace in that? I realize that sanctification is a process, and I believe that God puts on our hearts the attitudes and direction He wants for us. But is that enough?

In reading Piper’s book, I feel guilty for ever turning on the television, bypassing an opportunity to share my faith or buying something that might be considered a “want” rather than a need. If I do any of these, I’m wasting my life. The scenarios of real-life heroes—people who have died in defense of this great nation—are inspirational. And yet because I’m not as brave as they, I’m wasting my life.

There are several stories in the Bible that reflect what true faith looks like—the impoverished widow who gave her last two coins is only one example. In light of that, the purchase of a shirt because it will bring out the blue in my eyes is just wasteful. It’s not enough to tithe, we should impoverish ourselves for the sake of others. And the tug-of-war begins.

John Piper tells a story of a young man who loses his job as a security guard. He has no idea how he’ll pay for his rent or food for the month. He attends his church and tithes anyway. I’m with him so far. Then the church collects money from the church members to help feed starving children in Africa. This young many gives a portion of his dwindling money to this cause. Then a friend calls him up—he has heart problems and no insurance. This young man gives the rest of his money to his friend. And the question John Piper asks is if I believe this man is foolish or faithful—and would I do the same?

I struggled with this question and shame filled my heart. I thought about that man—about the starving children in Africa—and wondered where his next meal would come from. And the friend without insurance? My first thought was that this young man didn’t have insurance either—nor did he have a job. He was like the poor widow giving up her last two coins for the benefit of someone else—a woman Jesus claimed to have given more than those who donated a fortune.

The Bible is full of promises of grace and judgment. Which side of the spectrum will I fall? Which side of the spectrum will you?

2 thoughts on “Waste Not, Want Not

  1. I have to believe that it is not my willingness to give my last 2 coins or give to my friend who has lost everything that sanctifies me. However!!! I do believe it is because Jesus sanctified me and wants me to have a full and abundant life, I CAN give my last 2 coins or my best gift to my friend who has lost everything. I do pray that God will always give me opportunities to share His blessings with others whether it is monetary, spiritual, nurture or whatever my brothers need or ‘want’.

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