Many people try to play it safe as they travel though life, but not many people will say on their deathbeds that they wished that they hadn’t taken so many risks. In fact, studies prove that the opposite is true, that most will regret not taking more risks. When I speak of the word risk in the same sentence with faith, I am not talking about gambling or doing reckless things, hoping to get lucky, for luck is not even a real concept in the world of a sovereign God. I am not talking about taking risks for the sake of an adrenaline rush, or for the sake of being a hero, or for the thrill of adventure. I am speaking of walking with God into the invisible promises of His Word, and trusting Him enough to obey Him for the cause of Christ Jesus, even if it puts your reputation, your finances, your safety or your security at risk.
When a small group of people started Return Ministries, it was a risk, but it was something that God asked us to do. So we obeyed even in the face of stiff opposition. When we bought our first property and started an expensive remodeling job, it was another risk, but we knew that God told us to do it. So for the cause of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, the board of directors made the decision, obeyed God, and took the risk. Now God has called us to open an outreach center in Portland, in the west side of Louisville. And even though we will start off small, the LORD is giving us a great vision, as we believe He will transform many lives in this community for the glory of God. There may be up to 100 different ministries brought to birth through this outreach effort, and we will have to take many risks in the coming years, but these are risks worth taking, because they will be done out of a life of faith and out of our desire to obey the Lord Jesus Christ. Risks taken for the cause of Christ Jesus, to glorify Him, to make His Name known, are risks worth taking.
I recently read a book by John Piper that inspired me to write on the subject of risk. He says a mouth full with this statement below:
The sins of omission are just as great as the sins of commission. It is wrong to omit, or to not do something that the Holy Spirit is telling us to do. We don’t walk in obedience by simply not doing what God tells us not to do, but instead we also must obey Him as we do everything He has called us to do.
Young David took a great risk when he faced the giant Goliath. Goliath was the champion of the Philistine army. He was their greatest warrior, and David went up against him with simply a slingshot and some small stones. But David knew what God wanted him to do, so he didn’t hesitate or shy away from the risk. In the natural world, all the odds were against David, and the giant even mocked David because he was a simple shepherd boy with no armor, having only a slingshot. But David had a cause!
"And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? And the people answered him after this manner, saying, So shall it be done to the man that killeth him….. And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?.....And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine." — I Samuel 17:26-32
This was a defining moment in David’s life, and he won a miraculous victory, because he wasn’t afraid of taking a risk, and he wasn’t afraid of the giant Goliath. David simply walked by faith and trusted the LORD Who told him to go and fight for His cause. Sometimes Christians get afraid of what people or even the devil can do to them, so much so, that the fear paralyzes them and keeps them from obeying God. They think by playing it safe, they will not suffer loss. However, just the opposite is true because when we fail to obey God with a sin of omission we break our unity with Him, and we walk out of His will for our lives. Walking out of the will of God is a dangerous place for a Christian to walk.
Queen Esther was willing to take the risk of losing her very life, when she obeyed Mordecai and went into the King without being asked into his presence. The law of the King was that no one came into his presence without being asked first, and breaking the law meant the death penalty. But the entire Jewish race was at stake, as the evil Haman had talked the King into passing a decree to have all the Jews exterminated. So Esther made up her mind to obey God and before she went into the King, she said these famous words: “If I perish, I perish.”
"Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer, Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish." — Esther 4:15,16
Esther saved the Jews from the wicked devices of Haman and his plan of destroying the entire Jewish race, and she did it by obeying God and taking a risk.
Abraham is considered the father of faith because God asked him to do the impossible, to offer up his son Isaac on the altar. Abraham could have played it safe; after all, Isaac was a miraculous son born in his and Sarah’s old age. In fact, Isaac was the long awaited son that God had promised them. But instead of playing it safe, Abraham simply obeyed God and marched up the mountain with his son and laid him upon the altar. He even went so far as to draw back the knife. Then the angel of the LORD called out to him and told him not to do it. God didn’t want Abraham to sacrifice his son; He just wanted to test him to see if he would put God first in his life, even over his son of promise. Abraham took a great risk by putting his trust and faith in the LORD.
Gideon was asked by God to lead the children of Israel in a fight with the Midianites, the Amalekites, and the children of the East. Gideon did what any smart general would have done, and that was to amass a great army. He put together 32,000 soldiers, but God told him that was far too many, and he should send the fearful and afraid home. So Gideon's army was reduced down to 10,000 soldiers. God again said that this was far too many, and He instructed Gideon to put them to a test. And after all was said and done, Gideon had an army of only 300 men. Now God was pleased, and He told Gideon to go up and fight the gigantic armies of the Midianites, the Amalekites, and the children of the East. Gideon could have run away and gone back home with the 31,700 soldiers that did so. Instead, he and his little army of 300 went up against the army with a multitude of soldiers that looked like a number compared to the sand by the sea. In the natural world that would look like the odds were weighed against him, but Gideon was walking by faith, so he obeyed, took the risk, and won the battle.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were ordered by King Nebuchadnezzar to worship a false god, an image of gold. They simply refused, and they had to suffer the wrath of the proud king. He ordered them to be thrown into the fiery furnace.
"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." — Daniel 3:16-18
They took a risk, because walking by faith means that you must be true to your integrity, and you must do the right thing, even if it costs you your life. Of course, we know that Christ went into the furnace with them and delivered them to the point that neither their clothes nor the hair on their heads was burned. They took the risk, obeyed God, and God delivered them. It is interesting to note that they were not sure if God would deliver them or not, but they obeyed God anyway.
Caleb and Joshua wanted to take the promise land, but the children of Israel wouldn’t take the risk. Instead, the Israelites wandered around in the wilderness for 40 years. They should have inherited the Promise Land, but their fears kept them from crossing the Jordan River.
"And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan. And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight." — Numbers 13:27-33
The children of Israel were afraid of the inhabitants of the land and were not willing to risk possessing the land. They had rather wander around in the wilderness than to inherit the land that flowed with milk and honey. Joshua and Caleb tried to reason with them and begged them to obey God, take the risk, and claim all that God had promised them, but the congregation was so afraid that they threatened to stone them.
"And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not. But all the congregation bade stone them with stones." — Numbers 14:6-10
I wonder how much of the blessings of God that we never receive because we are not willing to take the risk for the cause of Christ. A life of faith in Christ Jesus will be a life of risk, but risk for the cause of Jesus is a risk worth taking.
There are many more examples of saints from the Old Testament that had to take great risks, in order to walk the walk of faith, for putting their trust in God meant obeying Him, even if it risked their life.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul was the greatest of risk takers. Paul was a special chosen vessel to take the Gospel to the Gentile world. Jesus saved him in miraculous fashion on the road to Damascus, then shortly after Jesus said:
"But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake." — Acts 9:15-16
Paul took three missionary journeys, and each of the journeys was filled with great dangers and risks. His entire Christian experience was one of risk taking for the cause of Christ Jesus. Everywhere Paul went, he had to suffer for the cause of Christ.
"Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches." — II Corinthians 11:24-28
One example in Paul’s life is when a prophet came to him and warned him of the dangers that awaited him if he went to Jerusalem. Paul would have none of the warning as he was willing at any time to die for the cause of Christ Jesus.
"And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done." — Acts 21:10-14
Paul knew that the Holy Spirit had already told him that in every city to which he went there would be opposition to His cause, and that he was willing to suffer for Christ sake.
"And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me." — Acts 20:22-23
It is right to take risks for the cause of Jesus Christ. In fact, to live a life of faith, it will require risk on our part. With that said, we must realize that God never takes a risk, because He knows everything. He is omniscient. God knows the future, but we don’t. So when God asks us to do something that will require risk on our part, God is not worried one bit, because He already knows how this will turn out. We are ignorant of the future, so we have to walk by faith. The key component here is finding the will of God. We must first make sure we are hearing His voice. Then we should simply say, “Yes, LORD. I will trust You and obey, even though I will be at risk of losing money, time, reputation, security or even my life." It is right to take risks for Jesus’ sake. It is right to take risks for the glory of God. It is right to take risks for the cause of Jesus Christ. That’s a life worth living.
One other thing we should consider is the amazing fact found in Romans 8:31 where the Bible states: "If God be for us, who can be against us?"
As we walk by faith, obeying Jesus Christ each day, we should remind ourselves that God is on our side. It doesn’t matter what person or what devil is trying to defeat us and destroy the cause of Christ for which we labor, because God is for us. He is fighting for us, supporting us, sustaining us, guiding us, leading us and guarding us. With God on our side, we cannot possibly lose. God is in our corner, or even better yet, the fight is fixed. What Jesus did at Calvary’s cross fixed everything wrong with this world and with us. In fact, the Bible goes on to say that we are more than conquerors, for we not only win the battle; we win the war.
"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." — Romans 8:37
We shouldn’t waste another moment of time playing it safe. Instead, we need to get on our knees and find out exactly what God wants us to do with our life. And once we have our marching orders, we should say, “Yes, LORD, I will go, and I will do everything You have asked me to do. Even if it means risking my natural security, risking my finances, risking my reputation, risking my very life. For if I perish, I perish." To live is Christ, and to die is gain. Now that’s a life worth living.