We aren’t All Supposed to do the Same Thing
Years ago I read the book “Don’t Waste Your Life” by John Piper. The basic idea of the book was that we shouldn’t get caught up in material things and forget about our Savior. Instead we should keep God at the front of our minds, and everything we do should serve to bring about his glory. On the surface it’s a great message. But the book wasn’t quite just that.
While Piper does emphasize that the point isn’t to have everyone pursue a life of missions work, the underlying theme was just that: if you’re not spending your life in full-time mission work, then you’re wasting your life. It even starts out with the story of a couple that worked hard and enjoyed an early retirement. Piper talks about how when they’re standing before God, they will have nothing to show except their collection of sea shells.
What Piper fails to realize is that we all have different gifts; and we should be able to enjoy the fruits or our labor without fear of judgment. In essence, we can feel free to make a bunch of money and spend it lavishly on ourselves.
Use Your Gifts Wisely
We all have different skills and gifts. Too often we get caught up in the idea that we should fall neatly into the box of evangelism, and when your skills are outside of that box you have to work hard to bring them inside. Fortunately, that’s entirely not what the Bible teaches us.
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:” 1 Peter 4:10 (ESV).
There are some people that have been given the gift of talking with other people. They can strike up a conversation anywhere, with anyone, and talk about almost anything. These people can take that gift in one of two directions: use it entirely to benefit themselves, or use it to serve other people. If you’re given the “gift of gab” will you use your gifts to bring glory to God?
Some people have been given the gift of service. They can work for hours on projects, receive little to no recognition for it, and be completely happy. This can also be used in a couple of different ways: they can use it for their own benefit, meticulously building their own house, or they can use it to serve others volunteering at church. If you’re given the gift of service, will you use your gifts to bring glory to God?
Some people have been given the gift of entrepreneurship. They can see opportunities, and discover methods of fulfilling needs in order to make money. Many are highly successful. This gift can be used in a couple of ways: they can hoard it all and make sure all money is spent on themselves, or they can give a lot of money away so that other peoples’ lives are also enhanced. If you’ve been given the gift of “making a buck” will you use your gifts to bring glory to God?
Our Gifts are each Unique, and Each Serve a Purpose
I believe that John Piper’s heart was in the right place when he wrote the book, but his facts were a bit off. It came across as judgmental, and saying that you have to serve God no matter what, and if you have a highly successful career, then you’re doing it wrong. Modern Christianity falls into that trap a lot, that we can’t enjoy good success, and still be an outstanding steward in God’s graces. The Bible points us in a different direction, one where money isn’t shunned, but rather financial growth is encouraged.
For more information on this subject, I highly recommend Ryan Mix’s book “What the Bible Actually says about Money”.