Think about Death More Often

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. 17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. (James 4:13-17 NAU)

It’s good to think about death. It’s healthy to think upon how brief life is. Life seems to be too short to be distracted by temporal concerns. I do a lot of driving for my job, so there tends to be a lot of time for meditation. It may sound a bit morbid, but my mind sometimes wonders about the dangers of the road and how quickly life can change by a truck that brakes too early or a sedan that runs a light. I pray this never happens any of us, but I marvel at how sobering such a meditation is for my soul. This type of death meditation should not lead us to depression or ungodly paranoia, but it should lead us to a healthy outlook on life and remind us how a single act of God can change everything.

J.C. Ryle puts it this way: “Your time is short. Your days are but a brief shadow, a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes, a story that is soon told. Your bodies are not made of brass. ‘Even the young men,’ says Isaiah, ‘stumble and fall’ (Isaiah 40:30). Your health may be taken from you in a moment: it only needs an accident, a fever, an inflammation, a broken blood-vessel, and the worm would soon feed upon you in the grave. There is but a step between any one of you and death. This night your soul might be required of you.”

Words like this sober me up quickly. Even as a hospice chaplain, I do not think about my own mortality often enough, even as I minister to others on the brink of death. Yet it is good for Christians, who are now citizens of heaven, to think about how Christ could require our souls from us at any minute. It really helps us not to fritter away at meaningless things that have no eternal joy, spiritual benefit, or everlasting reward. I pray that I would think about death daily in a meaningful and sanctified manner. When was the last time you thought about your death?

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