The expected degree of caution in survival

How safe can one be, in this world? A person is assumed to be as safe as he can be careful in handling issues of life. There is truth in that sicknesses and death come, regardless of how careful one could be. However, the basic truth of existence lies in the ability to be careful in one’s handling of life. The unhealthy type of food we eat can be caused by carelessness in food selection. How one drives on highways can also predispose one to some accidental statistics. Speed limits are designed to save lives, but extreme care could also be hazardous.

The more one becomes careful, the more exposed to accidents one becomes. Those who are too careful on highways are commonly the ones who cause serious accidents on highways. Carefulness can, therefore, also be hazardous to also deserve suggesting being avoided. To what extent could carefulness be assumed as safe for humanity? From where can we draw the precautionary line to avoid danger in this world? There is no other source of informative data, except what was provided by Jesus.

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39 NIV). This sounds ironic as Jesus seems to be advocating for the opposite of carefulness. Jesus sounds like suggesting not being careful when handling issues of life.  How far can one go, in throwing people into confusion? Nothing appears more convoluted than the philosophy being projected by Christ. This requires deeper understanding, rather than commonly advocated when desiring maximum caution.

Successful business people are those going overboard, rather than those stressing themselves with excessive caution. Risk-takers are the ones who commonly succeed in business, rather than those always thinking cautiously for most of the time. Even in the field of sports, it is commonly the daredevils who attract fans, as to be successful, rather than the cautious ones. Hence, goes the saying: “A good horse rider is the one who has fallen many times.”

This proverb comes from the consideration that a horse rider who would be considered too scared of falling can never excite the fans. Car racing is an enjoyable sport, only because those participating in that sport are people who appear not scared of death. The excitement is the daring speeds that those drivers are committed to. The risk-takers are those who make this world exciting to live in. The too-cautious ones can never produce anything to display as good, for having ever lived in this world.

From such common realities in life, we can conclude that Jesus’ statement: “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” carries observable truth, anyway. Those who are too careful and committed to avoiding risk-taking have no reason to live in this world. Jesus used the same truism to underline the importance of taking risks and doing God’s work. Christianity is not designed for the weaklings, who consider protecting their lives more than necessary.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’

“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:25-33 NIV).

Jesus used the analogy to honestly show potential followers the desired commitment to become one of His disciples. Failure to consider that aspect in life can be another consideration of failure to observe danger with carefulness. The bold question is whether Christians are risk-takers or too careful, seeking to protect their own physical lives, ahead of risk-taking.

The one sitting down, considering whether able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand would be cautious. That is commendable, according to Jesus’ viewpoint. Faith should be measured before undertaking a risk as high as Christianity. Christian proselytizers will never tell potential converts the truth, due to seeking to benefit from them.

They avoid telling their converts what is expected of Christianity, fearing that they would reduce attendance numbers. They assume that they would be rewarded according to the number of converts. The majority of them would be focusing on those able to bring tithes to the coffers. They consider the level of blessings as coming from the income from givers. Hence, those coming to Church with a potential to give sufficiently are treated differently, when compared with those showing poverty.

“My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favouritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” (James 2:1-4 NIV).

James highlighted a behaviour, as common as still exists, even in our time. Those practising it may not even be aware of what they would be doing. To them, the most important people are those who bring income to the Church, not those who come to be a burden. It would be a condition of risk-takers who would avoid differentiating believers. Otherwise, to those considering that the Church income would be important for the smooth running of the Church organisation, James’ utterance is anathema.

Quite often it would be a poor person who risks being treated in that manner, without complaint, rather than the cautious pastor. In modern Christianity, a pastor is excited to see high offerings in church. Those would be necessary to sufficiently meet Church expenses. But, more so, the Church income would be necessary, for the pastor to live a comfortable life. That pastor would not have accepted his ministerial position for serving God, but to ensure that he gets a good income for his survival.

The pulpit would be used to persuade believers to give generously. More than enough Scriptural references would be used to convince believers to part with their hard-earned income and give to the Church. This describes the characteristics of deceitful Christian organizations in this world. The newly converted would not be able to see any wrongness in encouraging believers to give to the Church. The commonly quoted Scripture, which is more popular, than others in the Old Testament, is Malachi:

“Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it” (Malachi 3:8-10 NIV).

The naïve Christians feel treacherous on the consideration of robbing God. They do not even consider the fact that the Scripture was directed to the Jews with a responsibility of Leviticus Priesthood. The above passage is a highly quotable Scripture to encourage giving in the Church. Who doesn’t feel good, being counted among those considered as good givers? However, Jesus did not have the above Scriptural reference in mind, when talking about counting the costs. He was concerned about being His follower, counted as one of the disciples. Such followers were taught differently:

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father who sees what is done in secret, will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:1-4 NIV).

Carefulness must be considered, but on the how part, rather than in attracting the consideration of being a faithful giver. God is not interested in wealth or anything in this world, but the souls of sinful humanity. He has compassion for every human being alive, regardless of how those of this world view such people. The death of Jesus on the cross was not a sacrifice that was considered for the wealthy or the poor. What occupied His mind was that the entirety of humanity needed redemption.

In God’s eyes, no human being is better or worse than the others. The story of Lazarus and the rich man was designed to emphasize the point that God is not a respecter of personalities. To Him, humans cannot be treated according to background. Goodness is of the heart, rather than outward appearance. There cannot be anything riskier than reducing oneself to the level of insignificance in society.

Jesus’ Law is the Law of love and sacrifice that banishes the idea of avoiding risks. A Christian is a risk-taker, who manifests being willing to experience the cross, like Jesus. A Christian is not a coward who would rather conform to the world, rather than be transformed to be like Jesus. Popularity cannot be a Christian’s aim, as sincerely guided by the teachings of Jesus. The early disciples understood this very well. At one stage, they left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing, after receiving flogging, that they had been counted worthy to suffer in the name of Jesus (Acts 5:41). One of the attributes of Christianity is rejoicing when persecuted:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12 NIV).

A careful person is the one who avoids danger. There is a physical danger, which Jesus referred to as not worthy of consideration. The only danger consideration was spiritually associated. Jesus was the only one, at that time, who fully understood spirituality in humanity. There is no need to feel intimidated, for those who have decided to follow Jesus. In the spirit, there is no fear, which absorbs only those of this world.

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they are in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world, we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:15-19 NIV)

Christianity is similar to Gideon’s army. It is not about numbers that God is interested in. It is about courage, composed of people who are willing to explore new territories. There is no room for the consideration of physical protection in Christianity. Jesus set the standard in willingness to surrender His physical body, for the sake of humanity.

The only way out is the way through, for those intending to access freedom. The cowards are advised to stay away, as carefulness implies taking seriously the advice of Jesus to surrender everything. One cannot be in between the two considerations. Saving the body is alright when one is not interested in spiritual freedom, just as it is alright to surrender the body when interested in spiritual freedom.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those who have witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.

The Print copy is now available at for $13.99

Also available as an e-copy at  for $6.99