Are you risk averse or a risk taker? Is either position right or wrong? The truth is that from dawn to dusk and from first breath to final gasp, we take risks and are encouraged to do so. Our parents encouraged us to take risks as we took those initial wobbly steps, holding our hands and then releasing us to walk by ourselves. Whilst it may be true to say ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’, everyone lives within what they deem to be acceptable risk levels. Whether it is in the genes or in a person’s experience of risks already taken and consequences received, our risk parameters become established. One person with a high risk tolerance may think of someone with a lower level as unnecessarily timid; conversely, the view would be of irresponsibility! Many people routinely took the risk to cross the famous limestone Azure Window on the island of Gozo, but on the 8th March 2017, this ancient arch crumbled into the sea.
- ‘Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go’ – T S Eliot
- ‘If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary’ – Jim Rohn
- ‘Hesitation increases in relation to risk in equal proportion to age’ – Ernest Hemingway
- ‘The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks’ – Mark Zuckerberg
David Goggins had a congenital heart defect, but he went on to become a US Navy SEAL, encountering many more risks in his successful military career. After several injuries in attempting to get the world record for pullups to raise money for wounded fellow soldiers, he continued to achieve 4,030 pull-ups in 17 hours on January 19, 2013. A joke is told about David Goggins and the singer Barbara Streisand receiving an end-of-time debrief from the Almighty in which they both express surprise at the length of the list of the things they had achieved, to which they were told: ‘No, that’s the list of what you were supposed to do!’ What is it that might hold you back from achieving all the things God has prepared in advance that you are uniquely equipped to do?
- ‘If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space’ – Jim Whittaker
- ‘I am of the opinion that the boldest measures are the safest’ – Lord Nelson
- ‘I think most astronauts are not risk takers. We take calculated risks for something that we think is worthwhile’ – Michael J Massimino
- ‘He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life’ – Muhammad Ali
Life today is full of risks. Whether you apply a simple risk analysis or a full blown actuarial assessment, you are facing risks this very day. That is not to say that we should adopt a ‘gambler’s mentality’ or a stuntman’s recklessness but we should make a sober evaluation of the opportunities and threats facing us. In the world of finance, you might be commended for using the futures markets to hedge investment or paying high premiums for extensive insurance but how should the child of God view risk? God took a risk with Adam and Eve when he entrusted creation to their care but he takes careful note of how we live out our stewardship. Jesus unpacks this clearly in the parable of the talents:
- ‘Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money’ – Matthew 25:14-18
We all have different levels of ability – the Lord expects us to apply and invest in his Kingdom whatever level we have been given. When the time came for each one to give an account for what had been done with the Lord’s investment, two were commended for taking risk but the one who had done nothing was reprimanded. Thinking that the Lord was harsh, unjust and disinterested, he didn’t even put the money on deposit with a bank to gain interest. Big mistake! Instead of being congratulated as the other two, even what he had was taken from him.
- ‘For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them’ – Matthew 25:29
- ‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do’ – Ephesians 2:10
- ‘Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you’ – Romans 12:3
- ‘If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames’ – 1 Corinthians 3:12-15
- ‘Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment’ – Hebrews 9:27
Take another look at your life. Think about the ‘risks’ you have taken for God and about those opportunities you might have missed. As the saying goes, ‘Risk’ is spelt ‘F A I T H’. Faith is to undergird everything from how we eat, to what we give and how we use every entrustment of the wealth that Father God has placed in our hands. Maybe there are long-established archways that you should cross now before that opportunity crashes and is lost to you.
TAGS – reward, punishment, blessings, future, promise, heaven, judgement