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Living With Dying


Ecclesiastes 7:1-4

Just recently I came across a rather strange website called On this site, I was asked to answer a few questions regarding my date of birth, mood, and body mass index. After entering the data and clicking a button, a calculation was made as to the projected day of my death with a countdown clock immediately beginning to count down the minutes and seconds. According to the website I am set to expire on Sunday, July 9, 2034 (Make sure you are in church for that one). You can even download the death clock for your computer and watch it constantly count down the seconds you have left to live.

While this all sounds terribly morbid and morose, there is on second thought some merit to the idea of coming face to face with the reality of our shrinking lives. Thinking about one's death can actually have a redeeming quality to it. King Solomon says that it is better to spend your time at a funeral than at a festival, and the wise person thinks much about death (Eccles. 7:2, 4). There is something rather sobering and salutary about contemplating one's own demise. The Bible is clear that giving thought to the end of life can help us make a true beginning in life because whatever a man would wish to do on his last day he ought to seek to do every day.

Meditating upon death is a valuable act on a number of fronts: Firstly, meditating upon death produces a zest for life. Solomon says that the living take death to heart, and live all the more for it (Eccles. 7:2). Death teaches us to seize the day (Eph. 5:15-17). We should not be taken up with the fear of death, but with the fear that we have not truly lived. Secondly, meditating upon death produces humility. The thought of death has a way of shrinking us down to size and reminding us that God alone is eternal. An example is Abraham, who said in Genesis 18:27, "I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord." The consideration of his mortality brought Abraham low, and exalted God all at the same time. Thirdly, meditating upon death produces repentance. When Jonah came to the city of Nineveh and cried, "Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown!" the whole city repented in sackcloth and ashes (Jonah 3:3-5). Death brings a meeting with God in judgment, and therefore the thought of death should light a fire beneath our repentance making it a burning desire of the first order. Fourthly and finally, meditating upon death produces a godly contentment. In the midst of his losses and crosses Job is reminded, "Naked I came from my mother's womb and naked shall I return there" (Job 1:21). Death strips us of all things material and forces us to turn aside from the insatiable desire to accumulate things of no lasting value and treasure Christ. As these benefits show, living with dying is a good way to live.