John Piper in his book Don’t Waste Your Life, told the following two accounts.
In April 2000, Ruby Eliason and Laura Edwards were killed in Cameroon, West Africa.
Ruby was over eighty.
Single all her life, she poured it out for one great thing: to make Jesus Christ known among the unreached, the poor, and the sick.
Laura was a widow, a medical doctor, pushing eighty years old, and serving at Ruby’s side in Cameroon.
The brakes failed, the car went over a cliff, and they were both killed instantly.
I asked my congregation: Was that a tragedy?
Two lives, driven by one great passion, namely, to be spent in unheralded service to the perishing poor for the glory of Jesus Christ—even two decades after most of their American counterparts had retired to throw away their lives on trifles.
No, that is not a tragedy.
That is a glory.
These lives were not wasted.
And these lives were not lost.
“Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35).
I will tell you what a tragedy is.
I will show you how to waste your life.
Consider a story from the February 1998 edition of Reader’s Digest, which tells about a couple who “took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was fifty-nine and she was fifty-one.
Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball, and collect shells.”
At first, when I read it I thought it might be a joke.
A spoof on the American Dream.
But it wasn’t.
Tragically, this was the dream: come to the end of your life—your one and only precious, God-given life—and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells.
Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: “Look, Lord.
See my shells.”
That is a tragedy.
And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream.
Over against that, I put my protest: Don’t buy it.
Don’t waste your life.
As these two pointed accounts penetrate our hearts and minds, let us read the Word of God in order to further understand the truth God has for us today.
Join me as we read God’s Word:
Let us pray.
Today we are going to discuss two ways that we need to live - in light of the fact that our time on earth is limited.
Our first point is:
Because Our Time on Earth is Short…We Should Walk Wisely (Colossians 4:5)
Those introductory accounts really opened my eyes a few years ago to the vanity of life.
So many people spend their time chasing after their own dreams and pleasures.
The American Dream is the goal of many a retirement account - only to find that all of that time spent amassing this wealth doesn’t bring the joy it provides.
It proves fleeting and with a turn of the stock market - it evaporates anyway.
Where is your heart my friends?
How is your walk?
How do you make the best use of your time?
Let’s start by digging into the first half of this first verse.
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders.
We have discussed wisdom in the past, but I think we can always use a refresher.
The Greek word for wisdom is sophia and refers to wisdom first and foremost.
Some other ideas that help illuminate what this word means are to be prudent, clever, skilled, insightful, knowledgeable, and to be experienced in.
Wisdom is not only having the right experience and knowledge though.
Although these are definitely beneficial for wisdom there are many who have a vast array of experiences and are very learned who lack wisdom.
Some incredibly intellectual people are also incredibly foolish.
Wisdom is being able to take knowledge and experience and insight and apply it at the right time in the right way.
And true wisdom comes from God who gives generously to those who are in Christ.
See what James says about this:
How amazing is this?
If you lack wisdom, God encourages you to ask and then promises to answer your request!
The verses following this expound upon the fact that we should not doubt that God can do this however.
We must trust God in faith and He promises to come through with wisdom for those who ask.
Our God is an unchanging and consistent God.
And we can see Him answer this even in the Old Testament with King Solomon.
King Solomon has just taken over the throne from his father David and is overwhelmed and unprepared for the task at hand.
Then God appears: 1 Kings 3:5
What a question!
Ask what I shall give you.
And this question is coming from the Creator God - the Almighty - the Maker of heaven and earth.
What would your answer to that question be?
Money, fame, power, athletic prowess, good looks!
Most people in our culture would ask for something as fleeting as those.
But Solomon asks for something else.
He asks for wisdom - an understanding mind to govern the people of Israel.
God loves this request!
He not only gives him wisdom but also gives him riches and power.
God is a God who loves wisdom and loves to gift it to His children with wisdom.
Moving back to our verse:
There are many reasons we need to walk in wisdom.
The first being because it helps us be obedient to Christ and live a more holy life.
But Paul touches on a different reason as well here.
The Greek word for outsiders here describes those who are are not believers.
They are outside of the body of Christ.
They are not Christians.
The Preachers Outline and Study Bible says this about outsiders:
(adapted from the Preachers Outline and Study Bible)
Without hope beyond this life
Without assurance of life hereafter with God
Without help in facing the trials and traumas of this life
Without peace and security
Without fellowship with God and His family of believers
Without freedom from guilt - no assurance of forgiveness
Without light - no freedom from darkness and the grave
Do you hear the darkness and sadness in these statements?
Outsiders are without hope, without assurance, without help, without peace and security, without fellowship, and without freedom.
How we walk before them is very important.
I have heard a great many people make the statement that we might be the only Bible that some people ever read.
I think there is some definite truth in that.
However, we must not just influence those around us with the way that we walk.
We must also make the most of every opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We are walking wisely when we walk the walk but also as we talk the talk.
As believers we are to make the most of every opportunity to share the Gospel.