Better safe than sorry. I've been using that phrase a lot lately as I prepare to head off to Nationals. Do I need to practice my speech one more time? Well, better safe than sorry. Should we bring this old debate brief? Probably, better safe than sorry. Do we really need more sticky notes? Let's get them anyway. Better safe than sorry. Every time I said the phrase, something hit me about the eternal perspective that comes through it. And so this blog post was born!
"Better safe than sorry." We use this phrase all the time because, as a whole, we're obsessed with being safe. That's usually a good thing. But I'm wary of being too "safe" because we often mis-define what being "safe" really is. "Safe" is defined as " secure from threat of danger, harm, or loss; not likely to take risks." That is definitely something to strive for, but the problem is that we try to secure ourselves the wrong way. We use earthly means to protect our earthly bodies and earthly things from earthly threats. But maybe being safe is something much more... eternal.
And then there's the "sorry" part of it, which we mean as "regrets" or "wishing we'd done it differently." So overall, "better safe than sorry" is really saying "it's better to not take the risk that to have regrets about it later." Most often when we hear that, we think about not crossing the street if it's a little risky, packing extra clothes, wearing a helmet, etc. But.... do you think maybe we should live it out to a deeper level?
After all, it makes complete sense. We all know it's better to be safe than sorry. It's always better to make the effort to be a little more prepared than to wish you had afterward. But I don't think we really live that way. In little earthly things we might, but what about in the things that really matter?
What lasts forever? Not the things we usually attempt to keep safe. Not our belongings, not our money, not our house, not our pride. Yet we strive so hard to make sure that they are safe and sound. Do we do the same for the things that will last forever? Do we strive to store up treasure in heaven that will not fade away?
So, how does this apply in every day life? I believe that opportunities arise all the time in which we make decisions about whether to live for the temporal or the eternal. My classic example would be in the grocery store (we're all there regularly). You might see someone and feel that good old tug on your heart, God whispering to you. If you're anything like me, when that happens you start thinking of excuses. Maybe that person is already saved. Maybe that person will make me look stupid. Maybe I'll unintentionally push them farther away from Christ. Maybe this, maybe that.
Would we do that about something we value on earth? For example, my illustration of crossing the street. Would we reason that maybe the car will slow down and turn, maybe they would stop for me, maybe I can run fast enough? No! What if they don't slow down or turn or stop? It doesn't actually matter if any of those reasons might actually me true, we instead say, "Better safe than sorry!" So... let's apply that.
Someone in the grocery store. You getting a nudge from the Almighty God. Maybe they are saved. Maybe they will make you look stupid. Shouldn't we be sure anyway? Because what if they aren't saved? What if they just need to hear of God's love? What have you got to lose? Your pride, maybe, but that won't last beyond this life anyway. You could risk leaving this person with the assumption that they'll be fine. You could risk that someone else will come who is more "qualified." Or, you could be safe. Truly safe. Safe knowing that you followed through on God's calling. Safe in the knowledge that God has worked in you and through you whether you can see it now or not. Safe in the arms of your all-powerful Father. And storing up treasure in heaven that is safely waiting for you.
Don't we all agree that it's better to stay on the safe side rather than have regrets? I do. But maybe my definitions are a little different than most. I believe "safe" does mean "secure from threat of danger, harm, or loss," and thus the only safe things to do are the eternal ones that are truly safe from harm. I believe that "sorry" does mean "regrets" or "wishing we'd done it differently." But when this life is over, the only things that I'll wish I'd done differently will be those that made an eternal impact.
Better safe than sorry. Apply it every day.
- "Can I give this much more to this cause?" Better safe than sorry! Give it.
- "Do I really have time to stop and pray for this person?" Better safe than sorry! Do it.
- "If I give this homeless person a few dollars, isn't there a chance they'll use it for drugs?" Better safe than sorry! Help them.
Don't be sorry. Don't have regrets. Don't wish you'd done things differently. Be safe. Be a do-er. Be an active follower of Jesus. Be a person who stores their treasure where it will never spoil, perish or fade.
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." ~Jim Elliot