Reflections: Should a Christian Take Risks?

heard a preacher on radio say this morning: “The only people who don’t make mistakes don’t make anything.” Agree/disagree?

~ Facebook posting

Funny how I was mulling things over this morning, and from three different topics I could have chosen, one of them jumped up as a post by a friend on Facebook.

You cannot achieve anything if you do nothing.  Doing things requires some level of risk.  Crossing the street means risking someone coming around the corner and hitting you.  If you take a class, you risk flunking out.  If you sew, you risk pricking your finger and bleeding.  If you repair computers, there is a huge risk that sooner or later you will buy the wrong part and have to absorb some or all of the cost.  If you repair cars, there is a huge risk you will strip a bolt and have to drill it out.

Let’s face it, though.  Most of our worries never or rarely come to pass.  And, didn’t Jesus warn us against anxiety?

I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.

~ Mark Twain

If you see ten troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you.

~ Calvin Coolidge

In general, it is conventional wisdom that the larger the potential gain, the greater the risk.

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.

~ Robert F. Kennedy

However, this leads to more questions:

  • Does not taking risks really make a person mistake-free and perfect?
  • Who was the only one to not make a mistake?  Did He take any risks?
  • Did God the Father take any risks by sending His Son as a baby, expecting Him to grow up sin free and be killed at the hands of His Creation?
  • Did any righteous people in the Bible take risks?
  • Does Jesus have anything to say about risks?
  • What stops a person from taking risks?

Fortunately, a few of these are self-evident.  No one is perfect except One, so avoiding risks doesn’t make anyone mistake-free.  We are all flawed humans, so it’s best to not dread possibilities that may never occur.

Did Jesus Take Risks?

Jesus took quite a few risks, especially in His confrontations with the Pharisees.  Running the money changers out of the Temple courtyard, not just once but twice even, infuriated the religious leaders.

And, what of His death?  Sure, He had the faith, the confidence, the trust in the Father to resurrect Him.  Did He really have zero fears, though?  I’d say He had some serious emotions in the Garden of Gethsemane, and it is recorded for our instruction as to Whom to turn to when life gets us down.

Then, there was the risk of failure.  Some people want to argue that Jesus could not have sinned, but either He was tempted to or not.  You can believe the Bible or not.

15For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

~ Heb 4:15

Did the Father Take Risks?

So, if Jesus took the ultimate in risks, how about the Father?  Well, He risked the loss of it all, basically.  If Jesus failed, then not only did that mean humanity lost, but it also mean the loss of His Son.  Death teaches us the pain of loss, but it is tempered by the knowledge that we will see our loved ones again.  Can you imagine the potential loss lasting forever, though?

Who in the Bible Took Risks?

Basically, every righteous person in the Bible took risks.  It was their risk-taking and acting in the faith that God would aid them that made them stand out.  Hebrews 11 is sometimes called “The Faith Chapter”.  Talk about taking risks!  Some who only received honorable mention or none at all might be:

  • David, who faced Goliath without armor, without military training, without a sword and without combat experience.
  • Jonathan, David’s friend and son of Saul, who confronted his own father about David, thus taking his life in his hands (and Saul even did once throw a javelin at him).
  • Samuel, who was willing to confront a wicked King Saul and finished part of the job Saul was supposed to do.
  • Jeremiah, who was persecuted for preaching God’s word.
  • All of the apostles, most of whom were killed.  Only one died at an old age, but he probably died in prison.
  • Daniel several times took risks, even opening the window so people could see him praying “illegally”.
  • Daniel’s three friends risks their very lives by not bowing down to the idol that the king set up.
  • And so on…

And, of course, history shows us that true Christianity has been persecuted for most of the 2,000 years or so of its existence.  It involves risk today, even, to take time off of work for a bit over a week at a time.

What Did Jesus Say About Risks?

There really is a lot to be gleaned from a couple of Jesus’ longer parables.  The longer they are, it seems, the more that jumps out at you in subsequent readings.

One of His most famous parables is the Parable of the Talents.  It should show you that doing nothing is spiritual suicide, even if you only have one “talent”.

14For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

15And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

16Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.

17And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.

18But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.

19After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.

20And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.

21His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

22He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.

23His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

24Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man[is He really, or was this just the man’s perception?], reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:

25And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.

26His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:

27Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

28Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.

29For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

30And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

~ Mt 25:14-30

The two profitable servants gained more talents.  Obviously, they had somehow invested it.  The unprofitable servant, though, would not so much as risk putting it into the bank.  He was afraid of losing even the one talent.

Investment always involves risk, does it not?  After all, when you plant a field, there is no guarantee that floods, frost, drought or locusts won’t strike and cause you to lose it all.  Even if you turn it over to a bank, what guarantee do you really have that the bank won’t fail?  Today, we have federal insurance for such things, but even that assumes the government is still fiscally able to bail you out.  Back then, though, they didn’t even have that much of a guarantee!  The FCIC is a modern invention!

The person with one talent was not even willing to risk the banks of his day to protect the talent and draw interest.

Here is a question to ponder: What if one of the servants had lost talents?  Would more have been supplied?  Are they truly limited, or were they only limited for that period of time in their stage of growth?

Is God Our Father?  Will He not supply His needs?  Was the person with one talent just lacking the faith, the confidence and the trust in his Father to supply those needs even if he were to fail?

What do “talents” represent really?  Are they not the byproduct of something much greater?

9And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

10For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

11If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?

12Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

13If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

~ Lk 11:9-13

What Stops Risk Taking?

The time to take counsel of your fears is before you make an important battle decision. That’s the time to listen to every fear you can imagine! When you have collected all the facts and fears and made your decision, turn off all your fears and go ahead!

~ General George S. Patton, Jr.

The parable shows the number one reason people are not willing to take risks: Fear.  Controlled fear allows you to creatively explore your options and which are the most likely to succeed.  Controlled fear allows a person to see weakness and come up with a mitigation plan.  Uncontrolled fear, however, is the enemy.  Left uncontrolled, it can paralyze rather than enable you to come up with ways to mitigate risks.

It has been said that “fear not” or variations thereof is the most common command in the Bible.

6Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

7For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

8Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

~ 2Ti 1:6-8

What is Paul telling Timothy here?  To drive out fear with the aid of the Holy Spirit!  The Holy Spirit gives the gift of power to overcome our fear and produce in us love and sanity!  Fear of any kind other than a deep honor and respect for God is not compatible with the Holy Spirit!  Saul let his various fears drive the prodding of the Holy Spirit away.  Let us not do the same!

Then what?  Then Paul tells Timothy to not be “ashamed”, to go forth and face “the afflictions of the gospel”!  He tells Timothy to face the very things that make him afraid!

Prior to Passover

I have some advice for you if you do not know what your worst fears are.  The time to figure it out is now.  Why?  Because those are the very things Satan will turn against youin order to discourage you, make you give up and lose the opportunity to serve with Christ in the Millennium!  Satan will do whatever he can to make you quit risking, stop working, stop trying and stop being profitable.  He will attempt to get you to bury your talents.

If you have not yet experienced this, you will, unless you are not among the chosen.

13But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

~ Mt 24:13

Why should this surprise anyone?  After all, we are to be living sacrifices.  That means we must give up everything.  Well, “everything” in this case means giving up our fears as well!

2 thoughts on “Reflections: Should a Christian Take Risks?

  • Sl Ross on Facebook

    Excellent post, John. Have been thinking a lot along the same lines lately. Sometimes I think we miss the total investment that God and Christ put into us – and the risks of that investment – and we in turn don’t totally invest – without any risks if we believe the word of God – in Them, our commitment, our job as well. Thanks for this reminder.

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