Our world is full of bucket lists. We know time is short, so we long to squeeze every last drop of fun out of the limited time we have. There’s a whole industry that taps into this mentality. According to bucketlist.net, the top items on most bucket lists include one of the following:

  1. See the northern lights
  2. Skydive
  3. Get a tattoo
  4. Go on a cruise
  5. Swim with dolphins

What would be on your list? Where would you go? What would you want to experience? Of course, there’s nothing wrong with considering what we want to enjoy in life. Our God is generous—he made the world not gray and boring, but rather full of color and beauty, of opportunities and senses, of joy and fun. And yet, for the believer, we must understand the “bucket list phenomenon” often points to self-indulgence rather than simple enjoyment.When we know time is limited, we must pray wisely for things that really matter. Click To Tweet

An Alternative Bucket List 

The concept of our time being limited is, of course, not at all alien to the Bible. The New Testament writers knew time was short, which was both an opportunity and a challenge. As believers living after the ascension but before Jesus’s return, we, like them, inhabit what the Bible calls the last days. In his first letter written to persecuted believers, the apostle Peter encourages them to use their limited time well—it’s as if he’s giving them a bucket list. But this list is not like those we see today. It isn’t grand or out of reach; it’s very ordinary and practical.

First Peter 4:7 begins, “The end of all things is near. Therefore . . .. ” How would you finish Peter’s sentence? How do you think your unbelieving friends would finish it? Some might make haste to experience all the things they never got to do, while others might live in a state of dread or shock.

But the Bible is clear on how believers should live as we await the nearing end. Here are three action steps from 1 Peter 4:

1. Be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers (1 Pet. 4:7).

When we know time is limited, we must pray wisely for things that really matter. Limited time sharpens our focus and keeps our hearts and minds in check.

2. Love one another earnestly, because love covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet. 4:8). 

Because time is short, we’re to love one another all the more. It’s a simple yet powerful command. The love and forgiveness we extend to others are a reflection of the great love and forgiveness we’ve received through Christ.

3. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling (1 Pet. 4:9).

Who could you invite into your home to demonstrate God’s kindness? How can you pass on the grace and mercy you’ve received to others in practical and generous ways?

In addition to those steps, 1 Peter 4:10–11 encourages us to be good stewards of our spiritual gifts. Whether it be teaching, preaching, or serving in any capacity—it’s to be used generously for the good of those around us and for the glory of God. Imagine being part of a church like that—mindful of the reality of time being short while living faithfully in that limited time.

Humdrum Plodding 

What strikes me as I read Peter’s list are two things. First, it’s about other people. Our lives are not about us. The typical bucket list focuses on ideas that serve the person making the list, but Peter is encouraging a life of service and sacrifice for others. Whether it be prayer, love, forgiveness, or hospitality—it’s all about how we interact with the people God has placed in our lives.

Second, it’s very ordinary. It’s living the everyday Christian life. That doesn’t mean we can’t have big dreams or plans, but perhaps it does mean we need to give more value to the power of plodding. There’s massive dignity in living a simple, faithful life.The typical bucket list focuses on ideas that serve the person making the list, but Peter is encouraging a life of service and sacrifice for others. Click To Tweet

So, what’s on your bucket list now? Whatever your answer, however big or small, may we all live in a way that reflects God’s faithful promises to his people so that “in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 4:11). Amen.

Dan Steel
Written by: Dan Steel on November 30, 2022

Dan Steel serves as the senior pastor of Magdalen Road Church in Oxford, England. Before returning to his hometown of Oxford, he helped plant Grace Church Stirchley in Birmingham, England. He and his wife, Zoe, have four children. You can connect with him here.