Stop Playing It Safe!

The master was furious. “That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest. “Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this ‘play-it-safe’ who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.” 

- Matthew 25:26-30 (MSG)

As we are moving into this year, we need to develop a new position on risk-taking. It is time to start living lives that are all out, no holds barred, and ALL IN for our Creator! We only have one life to live, so God asks of us to live it well. And that means taking risks.

Now that does not mean living recklessly. God is calling us out of our safe comfort zones to live a life of risk-taking with Him. A life of intention, courage, and passion. A life that is willing to follow Him and, yes, to make mistakes, ultimately trusting that God can handle them.

Isn’t that freeing? He already knows that we will make mistakes. He does not expect perfection. He expects us to simply follow Him.

God is saying to us, “Be willing to make mistakes, I can handle it. I have provision for every mistake you make; I am the God of all; I have resources you know not of, and I can create new resources if need be. You must take risks and make mistakes to be fully human and to be all I have created you to be! You must push, strain, stretch, and then rest from your striving. You have no idea how beautifully and wonderfully I have made you; please come discover yourself with me!”

What is keeping you from living a life of courage and intention and risk-taking for God?

Simply put, it’s fear. We are afraid of failure, afraid that we won’t measure up, afraid of being hurt, looking foolish, stepping out just to fall flat on our faces again. Yet God calls us to a life of being fully abandoned to His calling.

So how do we get past this fear and step out of our comfortable, cautious lives? It begins with understanding that God is not surprised by anything.

Let that truth wash over you. God is not surprised when we fail. We need to look at our past issues through the eyes of a healthy parent, an advocate, a loving God that knows we are going to fall short of our potential or even do something stupid (even those things that we think are unforgiveable). We all have those deep hurts, nagging sins, and character flaws that we attempt to handle with varying success.

Yes, God does see our sin. And, yes, the sin bothers Him. But when Jesus died on the cross, God knew exactly who he bought. He’s not surprised. He’s not deluded. He did it intentionally. He understands the depth and breadth of our potential relationship with Him and that we will fail time and time again. We will turn away, make mistakes, and forget Him. He is not surprised by anything we do. He knows us even better than we know ourselves.

This does not mean that we should look at our behavior and take away the importance of the offense or mistake. We are simply to realize that our behaviors do not always indicate “who we are.” We need to desire behaviors that reinforce and express who we truly are as children of God. This is who Jesus was. He was God in human form, so every behavior, word, gesture, and decision was an exact expression of who He authentically was. This is the goal, yet none of us have attained it. But we know that God will complete the work He started in us, as Philippians 1:6 says: There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears (MSG).

This means that we must resolve to let our shame die in the past. We can’t let those memories “live” in our past to continuously pop up and ensnare our minds. This kind of shame and condemnation only leads to more sin! In fact, it is one of Satan’s biggest tools to keep us ensnared by sin.

This also applies to successes. Just as I cannot continue to live in the shame and embarrassment of past behaviors, I must not live in my past successes. We have to look at our life experience as lessons. We want to be wise people that learn, not fools that continue to repeat.

We need to shake off the old and live fully in the present where God has made a way for us to be restored each and every day. The added bonus of living fully in the present and taking power away from the reminders of our sin is that it is a great “in your face” to the enemy! When we choose to dwell on what God has forgiven, it is a massive reminder to Satan that he is defeated.

So, we are to remember and learn. We are never to use hindsight for self-abuse; it is only intended to see where we were as it is related to where we are going. We need our memories to remind us of either “who” we are or “who” we are not. If people have amnesia, dementia, or Alzheimer’s, many times relationship with them is not possible because they do not know who they are. When we are reviewing our past, we must resist judgment and condemnation. We know that God says, “Therefore there is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

You see, he paid the price for our ability to learn and grow without being in debt.

It’s similar to your parents paying for car insurance while you are learning to drive. You are allowed to make mistakes, there is no other way to learn. God is aware of this and has made provision for it. I am always comforted by the fact that God has already provided for all the mistakes I am going to make. Living in freedom from the debt of our sin does not mean that we don’t have any consequences. That is part of the learning curve.

I must evaluate based on facts:

Did that work for me?

Do I want to repeat it? 

Do I want to integrate that behavior that into my being? 

If not, I use it as a reference point to tell me NOT to do that behavior; I now know it doesn’t work, and so I can check that off the list. If it is a repetitive issue, like drug abuse or addictions, then the learning process is finding out what causes the repetition or the bondage to that particular behavior or cycle. Satan wants me to get so caught up in how egregious the behavior is that I am to condemned and ashamed to do any healthy problem solving.

Bottom line? Humans need to make mistakes as a way to learn.

God is calling us to relax and live in the freedom to learn and grow and make mistakes without the fear of our souls being in jeopardy. He has already paid the price. There is nothing we can do in and of ourselves to settle the cost.

Our only true offering to God is living our lives fully as Jesus did. Jesus risked the most. Think about it—we were not a good gamble. God knew, before He even sent His Son to earth, that we would reject Him, despise Him, crucify Him.

Yet He still risked it all for us.

The biggest insult to God is NOT LIVING! I know that I don’t want to be identified with the “play-it-safe” who buried his talent and was thrown into utter darkness. But that is exactly who we are when we settle for lives that are safe and risk-free.

Though God knows our human frailty, He has high expectation of our human potential when we partner with Him. We need to see ourselves from God’s perspective, living lives that are fully engaged and trusting in His provision. We need to take steps every day to use the talents and resources He has entrusted with us to further His kingdom. We need to reach out to the world around us with the full measure of His love.

So, go out on a limb. Take that step of faith that God has been calling you to take. Pray for opportunities to stretch past your own ability so that God can work with and through you. Above all else, in this New Year, LIVE your life FULLY, with passion and courage and abandon, as an offering of love and thankfulness to the God who risked it all for you.