Ever read the book 'Don't Waste Your Life' by John Piper?
Piper spends chapters explaining how a wasted life is one that is spent searching for pleasure in all the wrong places. Like retirement leisure, sports, friends, etc. "Life is wasted if we do not grasp the glory of the cross, cherish it for the treasure that it is, and cleave to it as the highest price of ever pleasure and the deepest comfort in every pain. That is what the next chapter is about.
God loves us by putting us through trials and pain, so that by learning to place our faith in Him, truest joy (happiness) will be ours. The path of the cross is an ugly, brutal, often deadly road. By our life and our death, do we honor God and show the world that He is worth living (and dying) for?
Whenever something is of tremendous value to you, and you cherish its beauty or power or uniqueness, you want to draw others' attention to it and waken in them the same joy. That is why Paul's all-consuming goal in life was for Christ to be magnified. Christ was of infinite value to Paul, and so Paul longed for others to see and savor this value. That is what it means to magnify Christ - to show the magnitude of his value.
It's a radical concept - when we are happy in God, we are glorifying Him. "To glorify God and enjoy Him forever" goes hand-in-hand.
The chapter that hit me the most was "Living to Prove He Is More Precious than Life"...
Of course, we do not use the word cool to describe true greatness. It is a small word. That's the point. It's cheap. And it's what millions of young people live for. Who confronts them with urgency and tears? Who pleads with them not to waste their lives? Who takes them by the collar, so to speak, and loves them enough to show them a life so radical and so real and so costly and Christ-saturated that they feel the emptiness and triviality of their CD collection and their pointless conversations about passing celebrities? Who will waken what lies latent in their souls, untapped - a longing not to waste their lives?
Oh, that young and old would turn off the television, take a long walk, and dream about feats of courage for a cause ten thousand times more important than American democracy - as precious as that is. If we would dream and if we would pray, would not God answer? Would he withhold from us a life of joyful love and mercy and sacrifice that magnifies Christ and makes people glad in God? I plead with you, as I pray for myself, set your face like flint to join Jesus on the Calvary road. "Let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come" (Hebrews 13:13-14) When they see our sacrificial love - radiant with joy - will they not say, "Christ is great"?
At the end of the road, will we show only a wasted life?