Don’t Waste Your Life
How to have a life of real value
I can think of plenty of people who have and continue to lead wasted lives in alcohol, drugs, partying, sex, and more. But “Don’t Waste Your Life” doesn’t address any of these issues, at least not directly. According to Piper a person may have a life free from any of these social problems and still be wasting it. And that’s because a wasted life (and its opposite – an un-wasted life) has to do with something far deeper and more profound:
How is your life related to the God of the Universe?
Piper’s big idea is that people are created to glorify God by enjoying him forever (see also Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist). So a wasted life is any life that does not fulfil this purpose. This means you can be a successful business man or woman and still waste your life. You can be a ground breaking research scientist or doctor and still waste your life. You can be a compassionate and successful whatever but if the LORD God is not at the centre of your hopes and dreams, your words and actions your life is a waste.
‘The Bible is crystal-clear: God created us for his glory. Thus says the Lord, “Bring me my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory” (Isaiah 43:6-7). Life is wasted when we do not live for the glory of God. And I mean all of life. It is all for his glory. That is why the Bible gets down into the details of eating and drinking. “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). We waste our lives when we do not weave God into our eating and drinking and every other part by enjoying and displaying him” (pp.31 & 32).
I read this book and discussed it with three other guys and we all found it helpful and incredibly challenging. Piper writes passionately, intelligently and persuasively that the only source of true and lasting satisfaction is the God of the Bible. He lays a solid biblical foundation and develops specific application in relation to work, gospel proclamation – evangelism and mission, suffering and making decisions. Seeking to work out the details of “weaving God” into every area of life requires a thoughtful reflection yet Piper doesn’t leave the reader to work it all out for him or herself. Neither does he provide all the answers.
“Don’t Waste Your Life” is more accessible for Christians of university age (the earlier chapters interact with the post-modern mindset), though a fairly motivated year 11 or 12 student would get a lot out of it. However, rather than just sitting on your own the reader will get much more out of it with a reading group or partner. Perhaps you could read a chapter a week for your youth or children’s ministry leaders’ meetings or with a trainee leader.
“Don’t Waste Your Life” has been out for a number of years now and for some reason I put off reading it – I don’t know why. But I’m glad I’ve read it now and I plan to read it again soon. If you haven’t read it yourself I recommend you do so.