- “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
- “What man can live and not see death” (Psalm 89:48).
- “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years. Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10).
- “No man has authority to restrain the wind with the wind, or authority over the day of death” (Ecclesiastes 8:8).
I remember when very young and thinking that while I could see the older generation gradually dying off that my generation had somehow reached a point in human history in which we would no longer have to do the death thing.
Dealing with It
There are various ways to deal with your own morality and unfortunately some of the most popular methods are not only useless but downright dangerous.
Maybe you know people like this, or have been one. They simply avoid the topic. They might go so far as never preparing a will or making any decisions concerning end of life issues. Then there might be what I would call the hopeful deniers. They eagerly consume any information on how with all our technology and knowledge we are going to extend our lifetimes into the hundred year range and beyond. That we will eventually die, but not for a long, long, time. Yet God warns that death can come deceitfully, that is unexpectedly (Psalm 55:15)
- The Morbid/Cynical View
We are all going to die so everything is meaningless and life is cruel. Nothing matters. Actually, the opposite is true, since we are eventually going to leave this earth and meet our Maker, the reality is that everything we do matters (Ecclesiastes 12:12-13). I like what someone said about becoming cynical, especially when you are young, “You have not earned the right to be cynical yet”. But there is no good reason to become cynical in the face of your own mortality. In fact, the opposite is true. My own death should add a sense of urgency and excitement to my life. Today or tomorrow could be the day. Not only that, but eventually I will take that big step and meet God. That should add zest to life.
- The Desperate View
If I can just keep myself busy enough, I can avoid thinking about it and if I just continually stay on the move maybe death will not be able to tag me. Such desperation is equally seen in trying to get all I can for me today and drowning oneself in earthly pleasures and distractions. Yet, death will arrive (Psalm 73:19).
The Wise and Creative Way to View My Mortality
Allow thoughts of your own mortality to aid your concentration and focus.
- “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom” (Psalms 90:12).
- In 2 Corinthians chapter 5 the two thoughts of striving to be always pleasing to the Lord and the fact that we will one day answer to Him for all we have done are placed side by side (5:9-11).
- “Inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
- My time here on earth is very limited. Life is short. There is no time to waste. Make yourself efficient. Get at it.
- No time to slumber: Ephesians 5:14
- How I use today matters: Ephesians 5:15
- “Making the most of your time, because of the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).
Making the most of the time or opportunity would mean getting everything out of an opportunity that we can, in other words, we never assume that we will have an opportunity just like the one that is before us. Each opportunity is a one of a kind event. There might be events similar to this in the future, but those opportunities will not be exactly like this opportunity (Colossians 4:5).
- I will die, but I need to avoid dying before my time. Like my doctor recently said, “After all your hard work I don’t want to see something preventable taking you out”. Ephesians 6:3; Proverbs 13:14; 14:27; 12:28; 11:19.
Mortality and Marriage
We are mortal and the person to whom we are married is mortal as well. That should impress me when I marry. I am entering into a relationship that compared to eternity is very short-lived and death will end it – forever. Marriage is where I am choosing to support, encourage and care for someone who is dying. Time with my lover, helpmeet, and friend is a very limited. Well, what should I do with that knowledge?
Ecclesiastes Chapter 9
The emphasis in this section is simply on the fact that life affords opportunities which the dead can no longer experience. Death terminates all activity under the sun. “People may not live as if they are going to die, but they are going to die just the same. The only person who still has hope (the hope to change) is the person who is alive” (David Posey)
- “Go then, eat your bread in happiness”:
Far from being depressed or discouraged by the previous facts, Solomon exhorts the living to make the most of the wholesome pleasures of this life. “Go then”: Go to it then. “It is a summons to be up and doing and is directed against the tendency to brood and to ponder over problems” (Leupold, p. 213).
- “Let your clothes we white all the time”:
God exhorts the righteous to enjoy their meals, enjoy their prosperity, refresh themselves with oil and wear white garments, which in Palestine would symbolize purity and festivity. God knows that our personal appearance is reflecting the condition of our heart and mind. If you are nicely dressed, then you are feeling good and confident. Clothing and personal grooming does reflect what is going on inside a man or woman. “The white garments are in contrast to the black robes of mourning, and thus are an expression of festal joy, and a happy mood” (Keil/Del., p. 363).
- “Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life”:
Far from believing that marriage is a burden, God looks at marriage as a reward, a temporary shelter from the frustrations of life. Marriage is a relationship that countless individuals squander. Marriage is a relationship that you will only have the opportunity to enjoy in this earthly existence (Matthew 22:30). Your mate is intended to make this toilsome life more bearable, to offset the troubles of life; so make the most of your marriage. Marital problems can start happening when people no longer appreciate what God has given them, when they no longer realize the brevity of life, or the few years that they will actually have with their mate.
- Appreciate them today for there is no guarantee they will be here tomorrow. Today is the only day that we actually have together.
- You will not have the talented people in this congregation forever. So we need to make good use of talented people while we have them.
The opportunities I have to teach others are very limited. First, there is a portion of my limited lifetime when I cannot teach. I am too young, I don’t know enough, or I am too old and forgetful. So the window is narrow.
Mark Dunagan | email@example.com
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017