Do you ever feel like you’re wasting your life?
Christian history is packed full of people who decided to make the most of their time in this world:
- John Calvin was 26 years old when he wrote the Institutes of the Christian Religion.
- David Brainerd was 29 years old when he died for his faith as a missionary.
- Jim Elliot was only 25 years old when he left the comforts of America to evangelize the Aucas in Equator.
But you don’t have to be in your twenties to make a massive impact for the Kingdom.
Charles Spurgeon knew how to burn his calories in wise ways. He often said “no” to good but non-essential opportunities, like when a leading London publisher offered him £30,000 for the copyright of his books, or a famous mercantile business offered him a salary in exchange for his membership.
“Lead me not into temptation means, to me, ‘Bring me not into a committee.’”
Spurgeon didn’t waste his life on secondary pursuits. He kept the main thing, the main thing: “To preach the Gospel myself, and to train others to do it, is my life’s object and aim.” Nor did Spurgeon hold possessions closely. When funds for the Pastors’ College ran low, Spurgeon offered to sell his horse and carriage.
So what can Spurgeon teach us about making the most of our lives? Here are thirteen tips from the most productive pastor in Christian history.
1. Don’t waste your mornings.
“[Spurgeon] had been known to begin as early as four o'clock in the morning, when very busy.”
“It is so sweet every morning for the hands to do a little that they could not do yesterday, and for the feet to be able to walk a yard or two farther than a few days ago.”
2. Don’t waste your pain.
“Our winter is making ready for our summer.”
“You will not only hold your hope — that is your duty, but your hope will hold you — that is your privilege.”
“A dying man is needed to raise dying men. I cannot believe that you will ever pluck a brand from the burning, without putting your hand near enough to feel the heat of the fire.”
3. Don’t waste your energy.
“Where there has been little sweat there will be little sweet.”
“Stick to it and succeed.”
“It is not so much our business to be weeding other people’s gardens as to keep our own vineyard.”
4. Don’t waste your emotions.
“O beloved, did you ever did try to grasp the thought that God loves you? Whenever I try at it, it brings the tears into my eyes and I can go no farther.”
“I hope so long as I live there will always be a straight road from my heart to my mouth, and that I shall be able to preach whatever I believe in my soul.”
5. Don’t waste your sin.
“In reforming any wrong habits, no time is like the present. Sin grows stronger by age. Do it now, says he, and backs it with fear of death. Sin must not be endured. Out with the traitor.”
6. Don’t waste your intellect.
“As with tens of thousands, my first acquaintance with Mr. Spurgeon was through his books.”
“To us it seemed that there was no great book, or noted writer of ancient or modern times [Spurgeon] was not acquainted with.”
7. Don’t waste your work.
“While we live let us live. There are no two lives accorded us on earth. If we build not now, the fabric can never be built. If now we spin not, the garment will never be woven. Work while ye live, and live while ye work.”
“The other evening I was riding home after a heavy day’s work; I felt very wearied and sore depressed, when swiftly and suddenly as a lightning flash that text came to me, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”
8. Don’t waste your talent.
“If you cannot preach, you can pray. If you cannot pray aloud, you can plead with God in secret. There are many who cannot preach, but who can give; and there are others, who cannot give, who, nevertheless, can speak a word here and there for the Lord Jesus Christ. There are plenty of weapons waiting for you if you have a mind to wield them.”
9. Don’t waste your sacrifices.
“Things which cost no pains are slender gains.”
“It magnifies his mercy if we can bless and adore him when he takes as well as when he gives.”
10. Don’t waste your family.
“I desire to bless God for giving me, as one of His choicest gifts, my own dear, precious wife.”
“Mr. Spurgeon loved his wife with a tenderness and intensity of affection I have seldom known equaled friendships.”
11. Don’t waste your friendships.
“There was no man in London that loved Dwight L. Moody more than Charles Haddon Spurgeon.”
“[Spurgeon] loved to show his friends round his gardens and then sit in a summer house and converse with them, or occasionally play a game of bowls.”
12. Don’t waste your free time.
“The time that a man spends in necessary rest, he never reckons to be wasted, because he is refreshing and renovating himself for further exertion.”
“He would read books of the most abstruse character as a recreation, and in a single day would often master the general arguments of several works.”
13. Don’t waste your witness.
“I would not mind if I were condemned to live fifty years more and never allowed to speak but these five words: ‘Christ died for the ungodly.’”
“When a godly woman’s child dies, the infidel husband sees the mother’s faith. When the ship goes down, and is lost in the sea, the ungodly merchant understands the resignation of his fellow-man. When pangs shoot through our body, and ghastly death appears in view, people see the patience of the dying Christian.”
A Final Word
Laziness, according to Spurgeon, doesn’t belong in a Christian’s vocabulary. He said,
“If you plan to be lazy, there are plenty of avocations in which you will not be wanted. But above all, you are not wanted in the Christian ministry. The man who finds the ministry an easy life will also find that it will bring a hard death.”
Spurgeon’s fifty-seven years of life orbited around one solitary goal:
“To raise the dead is our mission!”
With Spurgeon, Calvin, Brainard, and Elliot, may each of us make the most of our lives, knowing that the God who calls us to this mission equips us for success. As Spurgeon said,
“It is not a small gospel that he has sent us to preach to small sinners, but ours is a great gospel for great sinners.”
Check out Volume 1 of Spurgeon’s Lost Sermons (Volume 2 debuts in September 2017)