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When was the last time you thought about what the end of your life is going to be like? What do you want to be remembered by? Adam Tarnow walks us through 1 Peter 4:7-11, teaching us three ways to make sure we don’t waste our lives.
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When was the last time you thought about what the end of your life is going to be like? What do you want to be remembered by? Adam Tarnow walks us through 1 Peter 4:7-11, teaching us three ways to make sure we don’t waste our lives.
All right, good morning, Watermark Dallas. My name is Adam Tarnow. I'm excited to be with you guys today. I want to start off with a quick story to set up our time. It was about 20 years ago. I had just graduated from college. I was living in Atlanta, Georgia. I had been a Christian, been a follower of Jesus for about two years at this point.
I was plugged into a great church there in Atlanta and got to experience for the first time through this church what we here at Watermark call community. I started just running with some other guys who were passionate about Jesus as well. These guys had all been following Jesus a little bit longer than I had been following Jesus, so I was looking to them and kind of trying to model their way of life.
One day, one of the guys that we had been running around with came up with this idea and this challenge for us where he said, "Hey guys, I think we should all memorize Colossians, chapter 3. We should memorize that entire chapter." When those words came out of his mouth or I heard there was a group of people who were going to memorize an entire chapter of Scripture, my mind was blown. At two years of following Jesus, I had never met anybody who had memorized that much Scripture.
I didn't know if anybody in the history of Christendom had ever memorized an entire chapter of Scripture so my mind was kind of blown. I certainly wasn't memorizing Scripture at that point. I maybe had John 3:16 memorized because I had watched the NFL growing up and seen that sign. "What is that?" Kind of had read that. Other than that, I had never really set out to memorize Scripture. I said, "Great, let's go do this. I bet this will be really impressive. We might get a phone call from Billy Graham if we can pull this off. He might be so impressed by that."
I didn't really have a plan. I just started waking up in the mornings and when I was reading my Bible, I said, "All right. I'm going to read Colossians, chapter 3. I'm just going to go over and over and over that chapter. Let's just start with the first two verses. I open it up and it says, "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." I just kept reading those over and over and over again.
A couple of days after I started trying to memorize this chapter, I was taking a lunch break, and there was a long line at the place I was going to get lunch. I knew I was going to be in that line for a little bit and just thought, "What am I going to do with this boring, mundane moment here in my life? How am I going to pass this time until I can eat?"
I just said, "I know what I'm going to do. I'm going to go over my verses. I'm trying to memorize this. Here in about 30 days, I'm going to try and memorize this whole chapter, I'd better… Maybe this will be a good time to try and redeem this time in line." So I just sat there… "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things."
I just kept going over those verses again and again. The line just flew right on by, I got my food, and I was like, "That's great! That's my plan. That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to start to utilize all of these little mundane, boring moments of my life, and instead of just being bored, I'm going to go over these verses."
It completely changed the way I viewed all of these little mundane, boring moments. Now every time I was in line at the grocery store or in line waiting for food, I was going to go over my verses. When I was driving and got bored and I was sitting at a stoplight, I was going to go over my verses.
When I was making that walk from the parking lot into my office or into my apartment complex, I wasn't going to be bored anymore. I was going to go over my verses. If I for some reason was maybe sitting in church and got bored I was just going to go over my verses. I just used all of these little mundane moments and was able within the 30 days to memorize Colossians, chapter 3. It was awesome.
Fast forward 20 years to this summer. This summer I set a goal where I wanted to memorize John, chapter 15. It's one of those passages of Scripture that I feel like in my years of walking with Jesus I just keep going back to the truths of that passage over and over again as Jesus talks about how he is the vine and we are the branches and we are to abide in him and how apart from him, we can do nothing.
This was a passage of Scripture, a chapter that I was very familiar with in my walk with Jesus, but I had never really set out to memorize it. I knew how rich it was to memorize Scripture and I wanted to experience that with John, chapter 15, so I set out at the beginning of this summer to memorize John, chapter 15.
Here we are, Labor Day weekend, the end of the summer, and I can stand up here before you guys this morning and let you know that it was a complete and total failure. I did not memorize John, chapter 15. I'm definitely more familiar with it. I spent a lot of time in it this summer. Just about every quiet time or time with the Lord that I had this summer, I was in John, chapter 15.
It was rich to spend time and to read it over and over again, but I did not memorize it the way I memorized Colossians, chapter 3, twenty years ago. As I was trying to think about what made it so difficult for me to memorize this chapter this summer, what happened in the last 20 years, I think I know one of the biggest things that happened for me over the last 20 years, and I will blame it on this. I'll blame it on my iPhone.
Because when I got my iPhone about 10 years ago, it reframed the way I thought about all those boring and mundane moments that were in my life. All those boring and mundane moments where I used to be setting my heart and mind on things above, I now take my heart and my mind and I set them on things that are on this phone, with useless bits of trivia and data and information and emails and text messages.
I have the same number of mundane, boring moments in my life that I did 20 years ago, I just don't tolerate the boredom associated with those moments anymore. I like to jokingly say, "I remember the last day in my life that I was bored. It was the day before I got this iPhone. Since then, I've never been bored."
All these little mundane boring moments of my life are now filled with this thing and looking at this thing. So now when I'm waiting in line to get lunch or now when I'm waiting in line at the grocery store, I'm not setting my heart and mind on things above; I'm setting my heart and mind on this. I'm looking at things here. Did I get any emails in the last 15 seconds?
Now when I have that dreaded walk from the parking lot, that boring walk from the parking lot into my office, now is the time to be productive. Now I can look to see if I got any text messages. Now when I'm sitting at a stoplight. That's okay. Ninety seconds goes by really fast when you have the Internet. You can just sit there and look.
All these little boring, mundane moments are now filled up with this. As I was thinking about this all this summer about how I failed at memorizing this passage and how much time I spend with my eyes focused on that device, I thought of this quote from John Piper that some of you guys may know. John Piper is an author and a pastor.
He said this quote a few years ago. It's one of those quotes that you read it and you never forget it because you get mad at it. Here was the quote. It said this. "One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the last day that prayerlessness was not from a lack of time." I read that and you're like, "John Piper Schmiper. Who is he?" Right? "What's he doing messing with my world like that?"
I think the more I dwell on that and the more I think about my own life, the more I realize he is exactly right. Every single one of us, we all have time. We all have it. We all have boring and mundane moments in our lives. What Piper was maybe realizing about his own life or maybe what he was observing is that if we're not careful, that device is going to just take up all of our time and attention and we're going to wake up one day and realize we wasted our lives.
I start with that because that's what I want to talk about this morning. I want to talk about how we can not waste our lives, how we can not waste it. Just to be really clear, this is not going to be a message that screens are evil or the Internet is evil or YouTube is evil or cut all of that out of your life. It's not going to be one of those messages because our iPhones, the screens, the Internet, social media, that's not the problem. The problem is our hearts.
Our hearts are the problem. Our hearts are prone to wander. Our hearts are looking for life somewhere and we, most of us or at least just for me, I know I think life is found in those devices. When I'm bored, I cannot tolerate that boredom and I want life so I go looking for it on a device.
I think what's going to happen one day is I'm going to wake up and realize I'm wasting my life. That's what we're going to talk about today: how we can not waste our lives. I think this is a really important message for all of us because one think I know is true of all of us in the room is that nobody wants to get to the end of their life and look back on their life and have any regret.
Nobody wants to look back and go, "Oh my gosh. I wasted it and I didn't even know that I was wasting it," especially now in 2019. There has always been a risk of human beings wasting our lives. We're going to look at this passage of Scripture even here this morning where 2,000 years ago there was a group of people who were at risk of wasting their lives.
Humans have always had a risk of wasting their lives, but now in 2019, there are some very unique challenges that you and I face. There are more opportunities now to waste our lives than maybe any other culture that has ever walked on this earth. A lot of these opportunities that you and I have to waste our lives right now are subtle, really slow-moving, and many of them as we're going to see when you think about it are socially acceptable.
What we need is we need a wake-up call. We don't so much need to be taught, we need to be reminded of the fact that we can waste our lives one mundane moment at a time. I know none of us want that. So today, if you have your Bibles, let's open up to 1 Peter, chapter 4. We're going to be in this passage.
First Peter, chapter 4, verses 7 through 11. We're going to just spend some time unpacking what Peter was saying to these churches at this time. Those of you guys know Peter was one of Jesus' disciples. He was one of the early leaders of the church. So there were some churches that Peter knew of that were in the area of what is now modern-day Turkey.
These churches were facing a unique situation where some persecution was starting to happen. It was not cool or hip to be a follower of Jesus at this time in the first century. There was some persecution that was happening. People were dying for their faith. Peter had heard these stories and knew that this church and these churches were at this inflection point.
There was a risk that they could turn their back on the faith and start to waste their lives. Peter didn't want that to happen so Peter wrote them a letter. I think in this, this wake-up call for this church is still a wake-up call for us now almost 2,000 years later. Let me read the whole passage and then we'll go back through it. I think in this passage, there are at least three reminders for us on how we can avoid wasting our lives. Here is what he says in chapter 4, verse 7.
"The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."
There is so much here in this passage. Let's just go back up here to the top, to verse 7. Let's just unpack some of this. "The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray." So, "The end of all things is near." If you hear that, I don't know what pops up into your mind. Sometimes I think of a person with a sandwich board walking around a college campus ringing a bell saying, "The end of all things is near! The end of all things is near!"
Somebody downtown doing something like that. When I hear somebody out there in public talk about, "The world is about to end," or "The end of all things is near," I think about maybe what's going to come out of their mouth after that is just going to be crazy. Maybe it's just good entertainment and I want to wait and hear what that person is going to say.
Peter is saying that. He is saying, "The end of all things is near." but what's about to come out of his mouth is not crazy; it's profound. Peter had an eye on this church and the present circumstances that they were facing and the reality of the persecution that was coming upon them. For many of them reading this letter, the end of all things was near because they were maybe going to be the next victim of the persecution and lose their life due to their faith.
Peter also had an eye on eternity and basically just going, "Even if you live and make it through this persecution, still for you, the end of all things is near," because in light of eternity, all of our lives are just a vapor. All of them are just a vapor. That's so relevant for us here this morning. It doesn't matter what your age is. It doesn't matter how old you are.
For every single one of us, the end of all things is near. So because the end of all things is near, now is the time to think about what we're going to be doing with our lives. I don't know about you guys, if you ever played this little game I did in high school with my buddies sometimes. We'd be sitting around late at night, maybe throw that hypothetical out there like, "If you found out the world was going to blow up tomorrow, what would you do tonight?"
Did any of you guys play that game? No? Just me and my friends? Okay. So anyway, we played that game and I remember we'd play that game and wonder, "What are we going to do if the world blows up?" I always had an answer right away. My answer usually involved something like, "Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going go drink as much alcohol as I possibly can. I'm going to do every drug that I've been resisting."
Mind you, I knew no drug dealers at the time, but I thought if this little hypothetical was going down, they were all going to be like right there on the street corner. "I'm going to go do whatever drug I can do. I'm going to steal a fast car. I'm going to drive as fast as I can without my seatbelt. And I'm going to bed without brushing my teeth." I'm going to do what Bon Jovi says. I'm going out in a blaze of glory is what's going to happen for me tonight.
That was like 16-year-old little Adam. That's what I thought. Basically, if the end of all things was near, now was the time to just give in to every desire I had. Peter is saying, "No, no, no. The end of all things is near for all of us. Now is not the time to give in to revelry. Now is the time to be alert. Now is the time to be sober-minded. Why? So that you can focus on God. So that you can pray." Some of your translations may say, "…therefore be self-controlled…"
Be self-controlled so you can focus on your relationship with God. I think right here we just see in the very beginning of this passage, Peter giving us one reminder of how you and I can make sure we don't waste our lives. It's this. It's to be self-controlled. "Be self-controlled, the end is near. Be self-controlled. Don't give into your desires. Don't give into every wish that you have. Now is the time to double-down and be self-controlled so that you can focus on Jesus and pray and follow after him."
Because what Peter knows is that if we're not self-controlled, if we're just giving into our desires and all of our wishes, that means that we're going to be sinning. Sin is a waste of time. That is a waste of time. I don't know why for some reason over the past year that thought has been so profound to me, this idea that sin is a waste of time.
It makes me think very differently about my past and all the times I wasn't self-controlled and I just gave into whatever my desires were at the moment. I look back and those and I just go, "Not only did that hurt me most of the time when I gave into those desires, it was a complete and total waste of time."
I had an example in my life just this week on Tuesday, again another reminder of how sin is a waste of time. The situation revolved around this, this little orange rubber duck. The circumstances surrounding why I have this rubber duck are so crazy and so preposterous, I don't know if I can adequately explain it to you. I'm just going to go on some bullet points and hopefully you guys will follow along. Okay?
I'm on staff here at Watermark. A couple of weeks ago on a Tuesday, we had our staff meeting. Everybody on staff was given a rubber duck. We were given some instructions that in two weeks, we were going to have an all-staff gathering out in Fort Worth. The instructions were this. "Hold onto your rubber duck, keep your rubber duck, you have to bring your rubber duck to this all-staff gathering two weeks later out in Fort Worth. If you don't bring your rubber duck out to Fort Worth, then you're going to have to pay a consequence."
Now when I say consequence, don't think that you're going to have to work an overtime shift with no pay or do 50 push-ups or something like that. It's much worse. The consequences are this. I don't know, maybe you'll have to dress up in a duck costume and go all around Dallas and swim in various ponds and take pictures of yourself. Think that kind of consequence. Or you're going to have to rewrite the lyrics to Taylor Swift's new song about a rubber duck and record it as a music video, okay?
I hear consequence and I just go, "I'm a 44-year-old man with a family and a full-time job. I have no time for consequences, okay? No time. I don't want any consequences. This duck is given to me and I am going to protect it." For two weeks, I hid it in my backpack. I didn't tell anybody about this rubber duck.
I didn't even want it to see the light of day because I don't want to have a consequence. Tuesday morning, I'm about ready to leave, I'm about maybe 5 or 10 minutes from being ready to leave my house to go out to this all-staff gathering out there and I take the duck out of my backpack and I set it on the mantle in my living room and I put my keys right next to it so I will not forget it.
I then go back into my bedroom to finish getting ready. I hear my kids yell down the hallway. I have two kids: a third- and a fifth- grader. I heard my kids yell, "Bye, Dad!" They're going to school. If you guys remember, on Tuesday morning it was raining so my wife was driving them to school. They leave. I hear the door shut. A minute later, I come out. I walk down the hallway. I go and I look on the mantle. The duck is gone and I go into a panic.
I immediately get my phone and I make what will easily go down in Adam Tarnow's history as the most ridiculous phone call of my life. I pick up the phone and call my wife. My wife answers the phone the way she always answers the phone, because she's so sweet. She says, "Hey, babe. What's up?"
I say something like this, "Do you have the rubber duck? I need that rubber duck! There was a rubber duck right there on the mantle and I have to have that rubber duck because if I don't take that rubber duck out there to Fort Worth, then I'm going to have to pay a consequence and I don't have time to pay a consequence and I don't want a consequence! Where is the rubber duck?"
Kind of at that volume and that tone. That's almost an exact representation of how that phone call went. I hear her kind of rustling around and she goes, "Yeah, the boys have the rubber duck." I said, "I need the rubber duck right now!" She goes, "Okay, well I'll turn around and I'll bring you back the rubber duck."
So now the goal for the Tarnows is not, "Let's get the kids to school on time." The goal for us is, "Let's get Dad the rubber duck." The car pulls up into the driveway and I go out there. They toss the rubber duck to me. My kids are all excited. They're like, "Sorry, Dad! I didn't know it was yours!" I just look at them. My wife's like, "I'm so sorry. I thought…" I just looked at her.
I take the rubber duck, turn my back, I didn't even talk to them. I go out to Fort Worth, and I don't have to pay a consequence. Fast forward to when I come home that evening. I still had some things I needed to clean up, because I was not gentle. I was not kind. So my wife and I, I mean the very first conversation…
I'm thinking about it all day. I know. My little… I looked at the phone call. It was 21 seconds. That 21 seconds is going to lead to some clean-up time. "I'm so sorry. I was not gentle. My tone was nowhere close to being kind. Will you forgive me?" Jackie was kind to forgive me. We talked for 8 or 10 minutes about that. Then dinnertime that night, conversation with the boys.
"Hey, boys, help me understand why you would think it's appropriate for you to take an orange rubber duck with your dad's name on it? Let's talk about your lack of self-control right now. I think you have some blood on your hands in this situation. Whenever you're facing this situation again, what's another way you're going to do it?"
Like they're ever going to see a rubber duck just show up on the mantle in their house ever again. We have all this… Literally, I added up the time. It was probably about 25 minutes of clean-up after a 21 second phone call. That was just Tuesday. That was just one example of how much time sin takes up.
Sin is a waste of time. I think so many of us know this. You've never met an addict who had their life just controlled by a substance for like a decade and then they look back on that decade after Jesus opens their eyes and helps to get their life back on the right track. They never look back on that decade and just say, "You know what? I look back on that decade when I was an addict and it was just a great learning experience. I'm so glad I went through that."
No, they look back on that decade and they say, "I wasted it! I wasted my life during that decade and I will never get that back." We know this. We know that sin is a waste of time. The end of all things is near. Now is the time to be self-controlled and sober-minded so that we may pray. We know this. We know that when we give into our anger, it is five seconds of anger with hours of clean-up afterwards.
We know that when we give in to all of our sexual desires and we don't have any sexual purity in our life, it is moments of pleasure followed by weeks and months and years of guilt and shame. We know in that moment when we lie to make ourselves feel better, and then it wastes all this time as we have to keep lying and keep lying to make up for that first lie.
We know this is true. Sin is a waste of time. I love what the author of Hebrews says. It says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith."
The author of Hebrews here is using this metaphor of a race, of us following after Jesus as a race. He is saying as you follow after Jesus; don't let sin easily entangle you because in a race, if you get entangled, you fall down. Not only do you hurt yourself, you also waste time in the race. Peter is saying, "Now is the time. Now is the time to be alert and to be sober-minded so that you may pray." If you don't want to waste your life, be self-controlled because sin is a waste of time.
He keeps going here. Let's look again at verse 8. "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." Then he just gives a really simple example of what love would look like. "Offer hospitality to one another [with this attitude that is] without grumbling." Peter is saying, "Here is another way, here is another way that you can not waste your life. It's to put the focus of your attention on other people for an extended period of time.
"Above all, love each other deeply…" Here's why. "…because love covers over a multitude of sins." Peter is not saying here that the way you love others is going to atone for your sins. He is not saying that. There was one act of love that covers our sins. That was Jesus hanging on the cross. His blood is what atones for our sins.
We don't earn this right relationship with God. That happens because of what Jesus Christ did for us. Peter is saying here to, "Love each other deeply because your love can be louder than your sins. Your love of others can be more memorable than your sins." Because, "The end of all things is near…love each other deeply… Offer hospitality…" Do all of that "…without grumbling." Just focus on others.
The second reminder that Peter has for us here is to be self-controlled and to be selfless, which is very similar to the first point of being self-controlled, because selfishness is a sin. He is saying this, "Now is the time to put the focus on other people." My heart needs this reminder, this reminder that when I don't focus on other people, I'm wasting my life.
My heart needs this reminder. The reason my heart needs this reminder is because I have some Terrell Owens in me. I love me some me. I buy the lie that nobody else is thinking about me, so I have to think about me. I buy that lie. If you could take my thoughts from any given day and put them into a word cloud…
Do you guys know what a word cloud is? You take a block of text and you put it into this algorithm and it reads all the words and the ideas in that text. It takes the ideas that are in there that are repeated often and makes those words bigger and some of the other words smaller. We have a picture here. I took the Sermon on the Mount, what we studied this summer, and I put it into a word cloud.
You see some words here that pop. The bigger the word is, the more often that word shows up in the block of text. You see words like heaven, one and others that are in the Sermon on the Mount, because those words are repeated often. If you could take my thoughts from any given day and put them into a word cloud, there would be some words that would be a decent size, some words you would expect to see there, like Jesus and the Bible and church and some names like Jackie and Joshua and Jake and words like Nutella.
Just normal things that we all think about all day, but I think to my great shame, the words that would be the biggest in there are I and me. Because I'm prone to selfishness. I'm prone to just thinking about myself because I buy the lie that selfishness is going to make my life bigger. Selfishness never makes my life bigger. Selfishness always over-promises and under-delivers.
It's like one of those coin pusher games at Dave & Buster's or Nickelrama. You know those games where that arm is moving back and forth and all those quarters are there. You pump some quarters in there because you think if all those quarters fall off then you have free Chick-fil-A for like a day and a half.
You just keep putting those quarters in there thinking, "This one is going to do it. This one is going to do it." What ends up happening is the coin pusher game takes a lot more than it gives. That's what selfishness does. It takes way more than it gives. I think we all know this intuitively. We've had experiences with this where selfishness, we think it's going to make our life better, we think it's going to make our life bigger and it just doesn't.
Some of you, maybe even this weekend or maybe one other weekend earlier this year, had a long week with your family or a long week at work or going through a tough season at work so you're looking forward to a Friday night or a weekend where you're just going to do nothing. You're just going to go on a Netflix binge.
You're going to watch all the seasons of Stranger Things. Then you're going to get caught up on The Office again. Then you're going to watch Friends again. You're not going to tell anybody, but you're going to check out what Gilmore Girls is all about. It is just this Netflix binge. You go to work on Monday after doing nothing but just entertaining yourself all weekend, thinking it's going to fill you up, and you show up on Monday and you're depleted.
Or you think about that vacation you go on it's like, "You know what I need right now? I just need a vacation where I do nothing. I just sit on a beach and I do nothing. It's just the beach and the pool and the beach and the pool and sleep and the beach and the pool." You go on a vacation like that and you come back to the office, and you feel empty.
Then, there are some of you; there are hundreds of you every year who say, "You know what? I'm going to think about those weeks a little bit differently. You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to get on an airplane with 25 other people and we're going to fly to Miami and then we're going to get on another airplane and we're going to fly to Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
That plane is going to land and we're going to get all of our luggage. We're going to put it on a school bus. We're going to ride on these unpaved roads for 90 minutes with no air conditioning. Then we're going to show up at Mission of Hope and we're going to sleep 25 to a room. I'm going to sleep on a bunk bed under a mosquito net.
I'm going to sleep on a mattress that looks like it was taken from a baby's crib. I'm going to go paint houses all day. I'm going to go plant some trees. I'm going to experience that gross violation of personal space which is the kids' club. I'm going to let these kids climb all over me and treat me like a jungle gym. I'm going sweat for a week and eat nothing but white carbohydrates and peanut butter. Then I'm going to land back in Dallas, and I'm going to feel so alive."
Because we know exactly what Peter is saying here, "The end of all things is near. You're going to waste your life if it's just all you all the time." That's not where you find life. Selfishness always over-promises and under-delivers. That's what always happens. Jesus talked about this in Matthew, chapter 16, verses 24 and 26. He was talking to his disciples. This is what he said.
"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it." It's the opposite of what we think is going to happen. Verse 26: "What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?"
The answer being nothing. That's what Peter is saying here. "If you don't want to waste your life, now is the time to be self-controlled. You don't want to waste your life, now is the time to selfless, to let others be the focus of your attention for an extended period of time. Now is the time to love deeply." That's not where he ends. He keeps going. Let's go here, verse 10.
"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms." Then he gives a couple of examples of these gifts and the way you could use them. "If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."
Peter is wrapping this up and he is reminding the readers and he is reminding us here this morning that all of God's children have been given gifts. They've been given some time and some talent and some treasures. You are not to hoard those gifts and just put them on display in the house of your life, but these gifts that you've been given are not for you. They are to be given away to other people.
So Peter has this third reminder for us of a way that we can not waste our life. He tells us to be self-controlled and to be selfless, and the third one is to be a steward. He says to be a steward of the gifts that God has given you. Take these gifts that he has given you and don't use them for your own glory. Don't use them according to your own vision and values. Use them according to God's vision and values. Be a steward. Do you know another…
What he's basically saying is he is saying this. He is saying, "Be a re-gifter." Be a re-gifter. God has given you gifts not for you to collect and put on display in your home. Be a re-gifter. Take those gifts and give them to other people. I don't know what your views of re-gifting are. My views of re-gifting were challenged three days before my wedding.
My wife and I, about 16 years ago… We got married on December 28, 2003. On December 25, Christmas morning, we were going to be going and spending Christmas morning with her family. We had been so busy leading up to the wedding that we didn't buy gifts for anybody. We really weren't even thinking about Christmas. It was just three days before our wedding.
That morning, we were going to go spend time with her family. I left the apartment where I was staying. She was already starting to stay in the apartment that we were going to be in after we got married. So I drove over to our apartment that she was staying in, knocked on the door, she opens it up. I was like, "You ready to go?" She said, "Just give me a couple of minutes. I'm almost done."
She walks into there. So I go into the apartment, shut the door, she walks in. She goes into a closet and just kind of disappears in this closet. I hear a bunch of things rummaging around. What I remember a few minutes later, she comes out of the closet holding two picture frames with her pictures in them, I think.
I said, "What are you doing with those picture frames?" She said, "I totally forgot. We need to exchange gifts with my family. So we didn't have time to go buy any gifts and so I'm going to give them these picture frames." I had a couple of thoughts. My first thought was, "We clearly have a communication issue right now because we did not communicate that we were going to have to exchange gifts.
Had we known, I could've helped out, I could've gone and bought something. We need to have a communication… We need to grow in communication. That's good. That'll be maybe job one when we first get married, to just start to grow in that." The other thought I had was this. "The woman that I'm about to marry in three days is a re-gifter."
We did Watermark's pre-marriage ministry. We did Merge, but there were no questions that brought this fact to the surface. I don't know how I'm feeling about this. I'm like, "Is this awesome, or is this awful? I don't know." I watched her take the pictures out and wrap them up. We went over to her family's house. She gave them the frames to the people in our family.
They opened it up. They said, "Thank you." The whole time I'm sitting there just thinking to myself, "She sits on a throne of lies." In her defense, in 16 years of living with her, that was the only time I've ever seen her re-gift anything, so I think it was just the season that we were in. It just reminds us. I don't know what we think of re-gifting.
Most of the time, we look down in our culture at re-gifting, but it's just the opposite with God. He absolutely wants us to be re-gifters. He has given you these gifts, and they are not for you. They're for others. In my 17 or so years here at Watermark, one of the things that is so encouraging to me as I watch this body, is the thousands of members here who want to steward the time, talent, and treasure that God has given them.
They do not want to waste their lives. This church does not get to be the church that it is today just with good senior leadership. We have great senior leadership. They would be the first to tell you, it's not just about senior leadership. The only way this church has been able to be as impactful as it has been able to be in this city is because there have been thousands of people saying, "We don't want to go to church; we want to be the church. We've been given gifts, and we want to give them to other people."
It's just been amazing to watch over the last 17 years. It's been so encouraging to me to see how many people are stewarding their lives well. If you're sitting in here this morning and you're just going, "I don't know if that's me. I don't know if I'm stewarding my life like that," I just want to tell you, you are missing out. You are missing out on one of the most joyful, fulfilling aspects of life to be used by God, to steward what he has given you.
That means that if you're not stewarding what God has given you, you're taking these gifts and you're just collecting them. What Peter is saying and what Jesus was saying in the parable of the talents and Luke 19 and Matthew 25 is that these gifts are not for you. If we could just go with the metaphor of our life is like a house, what Peter is reminding us of here and what Jesus was teaching in those parables is that our house, the house of our life should look similar to this picture.
It should just look like this. Not the minimalist design or anything like that, but there's just enough. There's just enough there. He has given you some gifts. Yes, you can use those gifts to meet some of your needs. You have a place to sit, a place to put your coffee, a television to watch when you bring friends over to watch the game, but there's not too much in there. There's a lot that has been given away.
If you're not giving of your time, your talent, and your treasures, that means the house of your life looks more like this. It's just cluttered. It's just filled. It's hoarding. Peter is telling us, "Do not waste your life by hoarding." Hoarding serves no one. If you want to make sure that you're not wasting your life, now is the time to be self-controlled. Now is the time to be selfless, to focus on others, and now is the time to be a steward.
As I think about what Peter is saying in here and this theme of don't waste your life, I can't help but think about the guy who we mentioned in the very beginning of this message, John Piper. Some of you guys know him. He wrote a book called Don't Waste Your Life. It came out years ago.
The idea for that book came from a message that he preached back in May of 2000 called Boasting Only in the Cross. In May of 2000, he was at this even run by Louie Giglio and the Passion conferencemovement. They did this event called OneDay 2000 at a farm just outside of Memphis, Tennessee.
Forty thousand young adults and college students gathered for one day of worshipping God through music and through the teaching of God's Word. John Piper, 54-year-old John Piper, got up in front of those 40,000 young adults and college students. This was the end of Generation X and the beginning of the Millennial generation who made up this 40,000 people at this event.
So 54-year-old John Piper gets up there, and he is full-on in his dad clothes. He has his pleated slacks on and his starched shirt that's all tucked in. He sat there and he pleaded for 40 minutes with those students and young adults. "Do not waste your life" in this message Boasting Only in the Cross.
At the end of this message, he shared two stories. As so much time has passed, looking back on that message, a lot of experts would say this seven minutes is what has been called the seven minutes that moved a generation. These stories he shared at the end of that message, that seven minutes did more to spur on others for the spread of the gospel than almost any other message over the last 19 years.
As I thought about a way to close this message here this morning, I thought, "Let's do something different. Let's close with the way he closed that message 19 years ago." We're going to do something different. We're going to watch the close of this message. Have you guys seen the movie Inception? A dream within a dream?
We're about to have a sermon within a sermon. I don't know if we've ever done this. It's going to blow your mind. You're going to have trouble sleeping tonight, but it is okay. Just watch it. This video looks a little vintage. You're going to see some people dressed weird. You're going to see some puka shell necklaces. It looks like a blast from the past, but its message is timeless, so let's watch this.
John Piper: You don't have to know a lot of things in order to make a huge difference for the Lord in the world, but you do need to know a few things that are great and be willing to live for them and die for them. People who make a difference in the world are not people who have mastered a lot of things. They are people who have been mastered by a very few things that are very, very great.
If you want your life to count, you don't have to have a high IQ and you don't have to have a high EQ. You don't have to be smart. You don't have to have good looks. You don't have to be from a good family or from a good school. You just have to know a few basic, simple, glorious, majestic, obvious, unchanging, eternal things and be gripped by them and be willing to lay down your life for them, which is why anybody in this crowd can make a worldwide difference. Because it isn't you. It's what you're gripped with.
One of the really sad things about this moment right now is that there are hundreds of you in this crowd who do not want your life to make a difference. All you want is to be liked. Maybe finish school, get a good job, find a husband or a wife, a nice house, a nice car, long weekends, good vacations, grow old healthy, have a fun retirement, die easy, no hell. That's all you want. You don't give a rip whether your life counts on this earth for eternity. That's a tragedy in the making. That is a tragedy in the making.
About three weeks ago, we got news at our church that Ruby Eliason and Laura Edwards were killed in Cameroon. Ruby Eliason, over 80, single all her life, a nurse, poured her life out for one thing: to make Jesus Christ known among the sick and the poor in the hardest and most unreached places. Laura Edwards, a medical doctor in the twin cities, and in her retirement, partnering up with Ruby, also pushing 80, and going from village to village in Cameroon.
The brakes give way, over a cliff they go, and they're dead instantly. I asked my people, "Is this a tragedy? Two women in their 80s almost, a whole life devoted to one idea, Jesus Christ magnified among the poor and the sick in the hardest places and 20 years after most of their American counterparts had begun to throw their lives away on trivialities in Florida and New Mexico, fly into eternity with a death in a moment. Is this a tragedy?" I asked.
It is not a tragedy. I'll read you what a tragedy is. I have a little article here from Reader's Digest. You don't read Reader's Digest. I know that, but there is a generation who does. This is a tragedy. Title of the article: "Start Now. Retire Early." February 1998. "Bob and Penny took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51.
Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball, and collect shells." That's a tragedy. That's a tragedy. There are people in this country who are spending billions of dollars to get you to buy it. I get 40 minutes to plead with you, "Don't buy it!" With all my heart, I plead with you, "Don't buy that dream!"
The American Dream: a nice house, a nice car, a nice job, a nice family, a nice retirement, collecting shells as the last chapter before you stand before the Creator of the universe to give an account with what you did. "Here it is, Lord, my shell collection. Look, Lord, my shell collection, and I have a good swing. Look at my boat. God, look at my boat, God." Well, not for Ruby and not for Laura. Don't waste your life. Don't waste it.
[End of video]
Adam: So good. One thing. Be gripped by it, be willing to lay down your life for it. That one thing is Jesus Christ and him crucified. When our lives are gripped by the love that has been shown to us through Jesus and we understand that we've been forgiven and we're now restored and reconciled to God…
When our lives are gripped by that we can do what Peter says, to be sober-minded and start to pray. We start to understand where life is truly found. God, by his Spirit, enables us to be self-controlled. God, by his Spirit, enables us to be selfless. God, by his Spirit, enables us to be a steward. We're not going to waste our lives. We won't get to the end of our lives and look with regret.
I don't know what the end is going to look like, how all of the details are going shake out. I don't know what your kids are going to turn out like, how your career is going to end up. I don't know what neighborhood you're going to end up living in, I don't know how your health is going to be, but I do know that if we can follow after Jesus and do that, we will not waste our lives.
When that message was being preached in May of 2000, this church, Watermark, had been around for about five months. There was a group of people who didn't want to waste their lives. They said, "We want to be God's people here. We don't want to go to church; we want to be the church here. We want to be self-controlled. We want to be selfless and focused on others. We want to steward the gifts that God has given us."
There was a song that early on we used to sing all the time. It's the closest thing we have to a hymn here at Watermark or the closest thing we have to a Doxology. It's called, "One Pure and Holy Passion." It really is a prayer asking God, by his grace and mercy, for us to not waste our lives and that we can make following him our passion. I thought it'd be a great way for us to close here this morning. Let's stand and let's sing this.