Updated: Jun 7
If you are anything like me, you have had several near-death experiences. As a boy, we were competing to see who could get the farthest on his sled. Having said to myself, "I'm going further than anybody," the shouts to stop were not heard. When my sled came to a stop, I reached my goal to the street and stopped squarely in the middle. Turning my head there were tire treads twelve inches away, staring me in the face.
As I stood up, a furious man stepped out of the car and proceeded to chase me for a city block. I lost him by ducking down a driveway and climbing over a fence; Did I learn anything from the experience? Don't take unnecessary chances was eventually acquired, but I don't think it was right then.
Death stalks us all our lives, whether we realize it or not. I was a frequent visitor at the emergency room while working construction, and at a factory while attending school. On one occasion, working on a very high roof, a large wood panel was blown off, just a second after my small 130-pound frame moved out of the way. I never saw it coming.
DEATH: THE UNWANTED GUEST
Death is like an unwanted guest in a story. It is certainly not the hero, the heroine, the protagonist, or even the villain. In the play of life, death is the judge sitting on top of a very high bench, who looks at us with a scowl and says, "I find you guilty."
It is in the Bible we read those all too convicting words, "For the wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23) It is the price of sin, the fitting compensation for having turned our back upon God and said, "I don't need you, and I don't want to know you."
My current brush with death, which appears to have been only the thought of cancer, was no less real for a time. However, the Christian's destruction of the body should not be unwanted, even though we walk through the valley, as David tells us. "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me." To David it was only a shadow, not even the substance of death.
Furthermore, there is a form of death that should be embraced. Death is the path to humility.
DEATH: THE UNWANTED GUEST EVERY CHRISTIAN SHOULD EMBRACE
If you are well-read in the New Testament, you should be aware that repeatedly the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ gives to His only begotten Son all the glory. He takes none for Himself but gives it all away. Appropriately to the only One who deserves it. The Son submitted everything to obey and glorify God the Father. Jesus is placed in the position to receive all the praise, glory, and honor, but takes none for Himself.
The Father and the Son deserve the glory, and they know they do, but in the form of death to self, they humbly exalted the other person in the Divine family. The Holy Spirit is no less God in every way. He is the inspiration and author of the Word of God. He placed Himself far in the background to exalt God, the Father, and God the Son. His is the divine way to exalt the other persons of the holy trinity properly.
Churches around the world could be united to glorify God as He deserves if we would embrace death to self as we should.
Jesus said, "I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly." (John 10:10) The gift of eternal life is free, it is neither earned nor deserved. Salvation is free it is given to us freely. However, to experience abundant living there must be cooperation.
The day came when Jesus rode into Jerusalem sitting on the back of a donkey. He didn't enter on a white stallion there was no pomp nor Fanfare do to a King. Palm branches and cheers for the messiah, who could give the people everything they asked. They would give nothing in return but continue to live the same sinful lives.
However, that was not the reason for which Jesus came. So, you got off the donkey and gave a speech. Here is what he said. " except a grain of wheat fall to the ground and die, it abides alone, but if it died it will bear much fruit."
If you want to live an abundant life, you must be willing to live by faith built on repentance. Repentance is a manner of life for the Christian. Martin Luther said where repentance remains, self-hatred remains. Without self-hatred, there can be no dying to self, apart from dying to self there is no Abundant Living.
DYING TO SELF
"When you are not forgiven or neglected, purposely set at naught, and you sting with the insult and the oversight, and your heart is happy because you're counted worthy to suffer for Christ that is dying to self.
When your good is evil spoken of, your wishes are crossed, your advice is disregarded, your opinions are ridiculed, and you refuse to allow anger to arise in your heart, or even defend yourself, you take it all in patient loving silence that is dying to self.
When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder and irregularities or any annoyance, when you can stand face to face with waste, and folly, and extravagance, and spiritual insensitivity, and endure it as Jesus endured it that is dying to self.
When you're content with any offering, any clothes, any climate, any society, any solitude, any interruption by the will of God that is dying to self.
When you can never care to refer to your self in conversation, or to record your own good works or to itch after commendation, when you can love to be unknown that is dying to self.
When you see your brother prosper and have his needs met, and honestly rejoice with him in spirit, and feel no envy or question God while your own needs are far greater and unmet that is dying to self.
When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself, and humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising in your heat that is dying to self.