By Johnny Ramsey
Each of us has an undeniable appointment with death: “It is appointed unto men once to die.” (Hebrews 9:27). The statement of David is true with us all: “There is but a step between me and death.” (1 Samuel 20:3). One of the rare customs of our day is the funeral sermon, and most of us have listened to scores of such orations. Do we realize that some day, perhaps soon, it will be our funeral others will attend? If the truth were spoken on that occasion, what would be said?
Since we shall not live forever (on the earth), we surely need to heed the warning Isaiah gave to Hezekiah in 2 Kings 20:1, “Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die.” The brevity and uncertainty of life and the time of judgment make it imperative that we set our spiritual house in order: that we maintain a vibrant, godly position before our Maker (Revelation 2:10; 14:13).
Will we conduct ourselves in such a way that when we die our life will still preach a noble sermon as Abel? “He, being dead, yet speaketh.” (Hebrews 11:4). Or shall we be like the wicked man who died and “no one cared” (2 Chronicles 21:20)? Will it be said of us that we failed to glorify the God Who made us (Daniel 5)? Or shall devout men lament our passing (Acts 8:1)? Shall we conduct ourselves selfishly like Cain (Genesis 4:9)? Or shall live courageously like Joshua (Joshua 1:7; 24:15)? Jesus wept at a tomb (John 11:35), but we as His followers do not sorrow as the world does when Christians die (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). We strive to number our days (Psalm 90:12), so as to wisely spend our moments upon the earth.
In Job 3:17, we learn that there is a place where “the wicked cease from troubling and where the weary be at rest.” Indeed, Jesus made it plain in Mark 14:21 that it would be better for some “Had they never been born.” Since no one is sure of life, and no one knows the day of his death (Job 24:22; Genesis 27:2), we must be wise enough to make God “our refuge and strength” (Psalm 46:1) in the battles of this life.
Christians can “have boldness in the day of judgment” (1 John 4:17), because, “the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:13). Under deepest duress Paul wrote that the same Lord who stood by him in life would “preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:18). But some folk, reaping as sown, shall miss the golden strand of glory (John 8:21). Many shall have so lived that the caravan they join will be marching in the wrong direction and to a destiny no to be desired.
Our life is but a vapor (James 4:14), a passing shadow and a flower that fades away (1 Peter 1:24). If the Lord preached your funeral sermon, or mine, would He say: “Enter into the joys of the redeemed?”