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"O Death, Where Is Thy Sting?"

"O Death, Where Is Thy Sting?"

by Andrew Weaver

Published in
The Christian Informer
February, 2001

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Last updated:
January 31, 2001.

HEBREWS 9:27 SAYS, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment."

Death is a subject we often avoid. We don't like to think about it. Often we put it out of our minds to the point that when a loved one passes from this life, we have an extremely difficult time dealing with the loss. To many death is a great mystery. Not one of us has tasted of death. We have no way of knowing just exactly how we will feel, or what we will see when we cross that valley of death.

In my short lifetime, I have attended many funerals - too many to count. I have attended the funeral of both the righteous and the unrighteous. The latter are always the most difficult to deal with. One of my very first memories is that of my family's attending the funeral of brother Marion Frank. Brother Frank, was a great asset to the Lord's church. From what I have heard, he put a sincere effort into making sure that he was living a life that was right in the eyes of God. Having come from a denomination he saw the importance of making sure we were worshiping and living according to the scriptures. He wrote many articles, and I have enjoyed reading some of his works in older issues of the Old Paths Advocate. Often, they were just entitled Frankly Speaking. When he passed on, there were many people who attended his funeral, at the time I was not able to comprehend much about death. All I really knew was that brother Frank was gone forever, and he would no longer slip me a piece of bubble gum, as he had so many times before when he shook my hand.

A few years later my grandfather, Chester King, passed from this life, after many years in the service of the Lord. The majority of his evangelistic work was done in California, where he helped start several congregations and led many to Christ. Later he spent time working with the congregations in Lebanon, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas. Today, thirteen years after his passing, I still hear of all the work he did as an evangelist in the Lord's church. His death just before Thanksgiving 1987, made the first real impact upon my life. It was then, at a mere nine years of age, I was made to understand to some degree that when we pass away, it matters whether we have been righteous or unrighteous.

In 1994 my grandmother, on my father's side, suddenly had a stroke and within a few weeks, she passed away. She was not a member of the church, but attended a denominational church in Lebanon, Missouri where she lived. I believe this was the first funeral of an unbeliever that I had attended. It was very disturbing to me. I remember thinking about all the years she had to make things right in her life by simply obeying the gospel. Yet, she never took those necessary steps of believing, repenting, confessing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and being baptized for the remission of her sins (Mark 16:16; Luke 13:3; Acts 8:36-37; 1 Peter 3:21). With her passing, I realized how many opportunities we are afforded to make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10), but we just toss them aside, and await for a more convenient season.

Recently, I attended the funeral of my cousin, and brother in Christ, Kenneth King. At his death he was only 39 years of age. After his long battle with cancer, the Lord saw fit for him to leave this world. He left behind a wife and three young children, the oldest only ten years of age. He was a great help and an inspiration to the congregation, and he attempted to live a life that was right in the eyes of the Lord. With his passing, I was able to realize with greater magnitude that death is no respecter of persons. Death knocks on the door of the old and young alike. Death does not favor anyone. When our stay here on earth is through, there will be no more time to make our lives right.

Sometimes we have difficulty dealing with the death of loved ones, whether they are in the church or not. Sometimes there are even those who blame God for the death of a loved one. (After all, does God not give and take away?). But this kind of thought should never enter our minds. We must realize that death is the result of man's disobedience. "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12).

When Adam and Eve committed sin in the Garden of Eden, one of the punishments placed upon them and all mankind was death. From that point on all would be cursed to die a physical death. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:22).

Instead of becoming angry or grief-stricken for years to come when a loved one passes from this life, let us learn from such tragedies. Let us look back at their life and see if we need to make changes in our own, so that we may be prepared as they were, or let us learn from their mistakes. Let us realize, it is imperative that we live a life that is faithful UNTO DEATH.

Jesus says, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Revelation 2:10). There is a great reward for the Christian that will live his life according God will's.

Remember, death is no respecter of persons. When our time comes, there will be no turning back. All that will matter is whether we were living the life of a true Christian. There will be no more time to visit the sick, bring a friend to the worship services, or teach some lost soul the gospel.

When death comes knocking at our door, there will be no more time to grow in Christ as we should. No more time to give that sermon we said that we would preach; no more time to lead that song or prayer we kept saying we would lead; no more time to get up off that pew and start take part in the work of our home congregation. Because you see, our time will be no more.

If you are a Christian and for some reason you keep making excuses for the lack of growth in your life, you need to take heed to the words of Paul. In Romans 8:6 he said, "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace."

If for some reason you are not a Christian and you keep putting off submitting to God's will, quit looking at some hypocrite and using him as an excuse for your inaction. Realize that YOU are responsible in the end. So, why not lead your life accordingly, and lead OTHERS to heaven by your good example. Don't be as King Agrippa, who said to Paul, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian" (Acts 26:28). Being almost persuaded won't get anyone into heaven. A person is going to have to be fully persuaded.

Don't put off making your life right in the sight of God. Don't be as Felix, who trembled at the preaching of Paul, yet he put off his soul salvation (Acts 24:25). We have no indication that Felix ever found that more convenient season he was waiting for. What makes you think you will?

May we realize that we have no idea when we will have to cross that valley of the shadow of death? With that in mind, isn't it common sense that we should be prepared to face death? May we be able to say as we embark upon life's final venture, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" (1 Corinthians 15:55).

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me" (Psalms 23:4).

I recently saw a quote on the bottom of an e-mail I received. I am not sure who said it, but I thought the words were worth our consideration. It said, "When you are born, you cry and the world rejoices. So live that when you die, the world will cry and you will rejoice." Wise words indeed.

When your loved ones attend your funeral, will they be attending the funeral of a righteous man or woman? I pray they will.