3 reasons why Anti-Bucket Lists > Bucket Lists

You [Lord] reward everyone according to what they have done. (Psalm 62:12)

I don’t believe Bucket Lists are evil. But I do believe that Christians of all people should spend less time thinking about Bucket Lists—lists of things you want to do before you die and “kick the bucket”—and a lot more time thinking about Anti-Bucket Lists—catalogs of things you will strive not to do on this side of eternity.

Why? Three reasons.

#1: This life is not our only chance to enjoy the best this world has to offer. As Dr. Randy Alcorn has said, “the ‘bucket list’ mentality…is profoundly unbiblical,” because Scripture makes clear that we will have all eternity to enjoy the earth’s greatest destinations (see Revelation 21:10-21), food (see Isaiah 25:6–8), culture (see Isaiah 60:1-11), jobs (see Isaiah 65:17-23), etc.

#2: God will reward believers differently based on how we steward this life. This is what David alluded to in today’s passage and what the Son of David, Jesus Christ, promised more than 20 times. In Matthew 16:27, for example, Jesus echoed David by saying that “the Son of Man…will reward each person according to what they have done.”

#3: Eternal rewards are almost always tied to sacrifices we make in the present. For example, in Luke 6:22-23, Jesus said that if you sacrifice your reputation at work “because of the Son of Man…great is your reward in heaven.” In Luke 12:33-34 he promised that if you sacrifice “your possessions and give to the poor” you will be rewarded with “treasure in heaven that will never fail.”

For these three reasons, I have spent a lot of time drafting my Anti-Bucket List—things I am intentionally sacrificing in this life so that I can accumulate as many eternal rewards as possible per Jesus’s command.

Let me give you one example from my list to illustrate.

As much as I love my hometown of Tampa, FL, no city fuels my soul more than Washington, D.C. (I know—I’m a crazy person).

So why don’t my wife and I move our family to DC? There are many reasons, but one is that our aging parents and grandparents are within a ten-minute drive of our current home and we feel called to help care for them as they get older. 

That’s a sacrifice for me personally (less so for my far less selfish wife). But knowing that I will have all of eternity to explore the greatest city of all time, I am happy to put this dream on my Anti-Bucket List, because I trust in God’s promise that he will reward me “for whatever good [I] do” in this life (Ephesians 6:8). 

You too can take David’s words to the bank: The Lord will “reward everyone according to what they have done.” Plan accordingly.


P.S. If you want to go deeper on why the concept of rewards makes believers uncomfortable, what rewards Scripture promises, how you can earn them, and what else is on my Anti-Bucket List, check out Chapter 4 of my book, The Sacredness of Secular Work!


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