by Pastor Jerry Ingalls
As a pastor serving in the local church, I am privileged to sit with people in both the best of times and the worst of times. I journey with people through not only the highs: celebrations of births, marriages, anniversaries, and graduations, but also the lows: tragedies, divorces, hospital stays, and funerals. In most people’s day to day lives, they are not constantly living in these highs and lows such as I am privileged to do. Most people are doing the best they can with what they have to persevere in their responsibilities and navigate the twists in their own road. But in both and along the way, I have learned that there is nothing more important than a person’s view of life and death.
Honestly, it is your perspective on why you do what you do today and what you may face tomorrow that will make you or break you.
The Apostle Paul sums up his view of life and death in this statement: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). He was not morbid or suicidal, he had a powerful outlook on his life and death! Paul was a man who prayed for the second coming of Christ and believed it was imminent over 1,900 years ago, but he made a choice that every day he was alive he would live for Jesus and serve the local churches he planted and supported in the midst of Roman persecution. In addition, Paul made the decision by faith that he would not fear death, but rather embrace his faith that said death in Jesus was gain.
In the barrage of unrelenting images that are the wrath of God that is to come upon the whole earth, we are given hope for our lives and our deaths that allow us to persevere. John recorded this in Revelation 14:13, “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!’”
Today, there are two realities we need to get straight about life and death.
First, be fully alive in Jesus! That means gainful employment for the King and His Kingdom. That means the purpose for our day to day perseverance is the glory of God; the building of His Kingdom, and the witness of His lovingkindness. Your life is not about you, but about the One who gives Life.
Second, have no fear of death! When Paul says, “to die is gain” what he is saying is that you can live your life and face your circumstances with no guilt in life and no fear of death. You don’t need to hold back, you can go for it because what you have been given you cannot lose!
This perspective is the secret to Paul’s contentment in all circumstances and to his peace of heart and mind in the midst of all that he went through.
My spiritual father recently shared with me these words from the great 18th century church leader, Jonathan Edwards, who gave three reasons why disciples can always be content, with a deep joy:
- Your bad things will turn out for good.
- Your good things can never be taken away from you.
- The best things are yet to come.
In light of these important lessons about life and death, how are you living today and how are you facing your tomorrows? What mindset interprets your life experiences and events?
*Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.