Media Review

[Review] Don’t Waste Your Life


John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life, Crossway, 189 pages.

A great book for Good Friday reviewed by Barnabas Omenda: 

John Piper’s Don’t Waste your Life is a worthy additional to the shelves of any young person whether a Christian or a non-Christian, who would like to know the essence of his/her life.

He begins his book by pointing to a story of an old man, who after considering the life he had led, he sadly says he has wasted it. Also a plaque with inscription ‘only one life, ‘Twill soon be past’… These were riveting forces to young Piper. Despite the prevalence of existentialism in those years (late 1960s) Piper realized that there’s an answer to life; it’s not for him to invent or create but its outside.

His focus in joining a seminary was closely tied to 2 Tim. 2.15 ‘rightly handing the Word of truth.’ As Daniel Fuller who was his hermeneutics teacher, in one of the classes, taught that enjoying God supremely is one way to glorify Him, Piper realized that God’s purpose for his life and any other person was for human beings to have a passion for God’s glory and a joy in that glory. This was a breakthrough in Piper’s life. God created us for His glory so as to see and savor God (Isaiah 43.6-7).

What I found helpful is the fact that life is wasted when we don’t grasp the glory of the Cross, cherish it for the treasure it is, and cleave to it as the highest price of every pleasure and deepest comfort in every pain. The author gives us Paul as an example of one for whom the Cross was his single passion, boast and joy (Galatians 6.14). For Paul boasting in the Cross happens when we are on the cross.

In his fourth and fifth chapter, Piper calls us to magnify Christ through pain and death which is far much better than wasting our life living in worldly passions. This speaks against our current culture which requires us to try and avoid pain and what may be a source of pain. He goes further to give us the examples of Joab (2 Samuel 10), Esther (Esther 4.15-16) and also Shadrack, Meshark and Abednego (Dan. 3.16-18). They all took risks though they didn’t know what would turn out.

The author continues, addressing broadly our purpose in all of life (including our work and use of finances) i.e. gladly making others glad in God. Piper constantly builds his case from the Scriptures and also quotes other scholars and writers to describe how to make much of Jesus Christ in every single hour of this life. Lastly, he importantly concludes his book by making a prayer for his readers that they will not waste their lives.

I gladly recommend the book to youths especially them that are wondering what to do after their education. The book might be helpful to youth workers and pastors in their counselling sessions and in teaching of the Cross.

[Don’t Waste Your Life can be downloaded as a PDF from DesiringGod]

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