“…in wartime sinners often rise to remarkable levels of sacrifice for causes that cannot compare with Christ. The greatest cause in the world is joyfully rescuing people from hell, meeting their earthly needs, making them glad in God, and doing it with a kind, serious pleasure that makes Christ look like the Treasure he is. No war on earth was ever fought for a greater cause or a greater king.”
Because of the unapologetic relentlessness and focus of Don’t Waste Your Life, there is not all that much that can be said about it. One could summarise it by saying that Piper nails what really matters in life with unusual lucidity. But any such sketch filters out Piper’s monumental gift of exhortation. In reality, and forgive the cringeworthy pretentiousness, one experiences the book.
Don’t Waste Your Life feels quite extraordinary; one reads it with Piper’s voice, Piper’s energy, and one visualises Piper’s strained brow as he imagines the wasted Christian lives of the young people he writes for. The book is a synthesis of his well-known “wartime lifestyle” analogy, the call for a single-mindedness reflected best in the national funnelling of resources during a war, and Christian Hedonism, soundbited by the now iconic “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him”. Rigney perfectly complements both of these; I strongly recommend following Don’t Waste Your Life with the excellent The Things of Earth.
Piper’s unceasing drive rubs off on the reader. The effect is a deep conviction of sin, and whereas it would be easy for someone at his age and stage to leave it there, Piper enthuses the reader with a desire to join him in making every single breath, conversation and prayer count. This works for his dual audience. Those with a potentially unhealthy bias toward ambition have their desires and longings channelled usefully into a canal of God-glorification (and, inevitably with Piper, hyphen-overuse), whilst those with the incline to laziness are given the motivation to begin a life without waste.
Perhaps the greatest testament to the worthwhileness of reading Don’t Waste Your Life can be found peppered throughout my notes in the numerous prayers it drew out. Maybe a sample of these is more telling than this review:
“O Lord, make me so in love with prayer and reading the Bible that I long to do so in any spare cracks of my day.”
“Father, I hereby commit to not wasting my life. Show me every drop of dross in my life, that I might sacrifice it at the foot of the cross. Show me how to pool all of my resources into the spread of the gospel.”