Thursday, November 5, 2009

How Not to Waste Your Life: Three Keys, Part 1

John Piper relates the following story in his book, "Don't Waste Your Life"

For me as a boy, one of the most gripping illustrations my fiery father used was the story of aman converted in old age. The church had prayed for this man for decades. He was hard and resistant. But this time, for some reason, he showed up when my father was preaching. At the end of the service, during hymn, to everyone’s amazement he came and took my father’s hand. They sat down together on the front pew of the church as the people were dismissed. God opened his heart to the Gospel of Christ, and he was saved from his sins and given eternal life. But that did not stop him from sobbing and saying, as the tears ran down his wrinkled face – and what an impact it made on me to hear my father say this through his own tears – “I’ve wasted it! I’ve wasted it!” (DWYL pg. 12).

At some point in time we will realize what really matters in life. This will be either while we still live and can do something about it or it will be right after we die and see the reality of the after-life. I hoping for me and you that we won’t reach the end of our time here and say with this old man, “I’ve wasted it! I’ve wasted it!”

So what are we going to do? How can we gain the perspective and passion to live life to the fullest? I think we see this in the apostle Paul and we are going to look at a simple text that can give us some clues for not wasting our lives.

1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.

Key #1 - Genuinely Love People
The key in this first post is a call for us to love people. Paul loved the Thessalonians – truly, genuinely loved them, and he makes this clear over and over again in this text. This is in stark contrast to the Jews and false teachers who must have been questioning his love since he was still gone. Paul had only been there a few weeks before the Jews became jealous and formed a rioting mob and drove he and his companions out of the city (Acts 17).

He obviously had not wanted to leave. Look how he describes it, since we were torn away from you . The word used is the term for being orphaned. Paul was their spiritual father, or even earlier had described his care for them as (v. 7) But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. And here it’s like he had been ripped away from his children leaving them as orphans. That would break any parent’s heart.

Now what was Paul looking for? I mean, he said he endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face. He really longed and worked to be with them. Did he just want to come hang out and enjoy their company? No it wasn’t just friendship. In chapter 3 verse 10 he says, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith. He deeply cares for them and wants to see that they are helped in their walks with God. He doesn’t want them to fall away from the truth. what you see here is Paul genuinely loving, and genuinely concerned for these brothers and sisters in Christ.

What about us?
What we see for us is our need to genuinely love others. Do you really care about people? Are you seeing people around you as eternal souls that will either spend eternity with our Lord or away from His goodness, forever in His anger? For us to not waste our lives, we need to love others to the point that we are willing to sacrifice our time, money, and comfort to see them walking with Jesus Christ.

This is the first key to not wasting your life from our text in 1 Thessalonians. In the next two posts we'll look at the other two keys in the text; those of understanding your enemy and eagerly anticipating the coming of your Lord.

Until then keep your eyes on Christ,


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