For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.1 Corinthians 10:31-33
The first big risk I took (according to my parents) was when I was a toddler. I grew up in timber country in Oregon and I loved log trucks; they would rumble by our house going 45 miles per hour up and down the McKenzie Highway. On hot summer days, my parents would put fans in the windows and open the doors to create a breeze through our humble, non-air conditioned home. And one of those days, my toddler self decided to get a closer look at those log trucks. As I pushed open our wooden screen door, it made a gentle slam as it closed just loud enough to get my father’s attention to Usain Bolt his way to the road’s edge to scoop up my toddling foolishness. But I don’t remember that risk except for the stories that were told by my parents and siblings.
Maybe the first risk you remember is trying a strange food or passing a note in class. A more recent risk might have been buying a lottery ticket, driving without your seat belt buckled, or saying “I love you” first. It’s also very possible that you’ve never bought a lottery ticket, drove unbuckled, or said those three scary words first because, well, they’re just too risky. Whether you’re a risk taker or risk adverse in your physical, emotional, or financial life, you probably don’t realize that you’re basically the same as your opposite; risk takers and the risk adverse are two sides of the same coin. Both categories of people have the same root fear: fear of missing out, you know, FOMO.
So how does FOMO work in regards to risk? It’s pretty simple. Those who take risks fear missing out on what they would gain if they didn’t take the risk. The risk adverse fear missing out on the comfort, stability, and whatever sacrifice they would have to give up to take the risk. For instance, a gambler fears not being “in action” or having their lucky numbers drawn the one time they don’t play the lottery. Meanwhile, the risk adverse fears losing their initial bet or worse, losing control and their modest fortune. This ever-present fear of missing out leaves every one of us with a dilemma; when to risk and when to protect, when to invest and when to cash out, when to open up and when to keep it inside. With so many verses of scripture commanding God’s people to “fear not,” one might think a truly free child of God should live with courageous, reckless abandon (while living sinlessly of course.) But for ordinary disciples like you and me, life isn’t so easy.
The Bible, unsurprisingly, is a great place to go when it comes to weighing risk. In 1 Corinthians 10:23-33 the apostle Paul gives us a spiritual perspective towards weighing what and when to do things and when not. The summary lies in this statement: whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. When you take a risk, are you doing it for your glory or God’s? When you avoid risk, are you protecting your purpose and goals or God’s? When you make decisions and weigh risk, giving God’s glory first priority will transform your risk-taking and risk-avoiding. Whether it’s picking a career path, a spring break destination, or whether to have a first drink or your last, asking yourself, “am I doing this for the glory of God?” can become your soul’s new magnetic north in daily life. If I offer you two opportunities to serve on a short-term missions team, one in rural Kentucky and one in a refugee camp in the Middle East, which would you choose and why? There is no right answer beyond asking the right question: “which brings glory to God?” You might argue that both do and you would be right depending on the orientation of your heart. It goes like this: if you desire to go to Kentucky to avoid the danger of the Middle East, that’s glorifying your survival and not God. Likewise, if you go to the Middle East because you like the extreme conditions and circumstances, you’re glorifying your thrill seeking and not God.
Doing all for the glory of God feels like the biggest risk to your self because it is; it’s death of self rooted in becoming less like you (the safe you or the thrill-seeking you) and more like the humble nature of Christ. There is freedom from the dangers of risk and FOMO by placing your future in the hands of the One who wrote it. Realizing this freedom is just another fuel for a life of thankfulness!
Questions to ponder
Do you consider yourself as someone that’s risk adverse or a risk taker?
I want you to think about the first big risk you ever took; did it involve a physical risk or an emotional one?
How does “whatever you do, do all for the glory of God” change how you weigh risk?