Are you ready to die? If you knew that today were your last day of life, would you feel peace knowing that you’ve taken care of everything you need to take care of, or would an almost paralyzing fear grip you because you recognize you are not ready to go? The wonderful thing is that it doesn’t have to be so–there are things you can do so that you can leave this life with peace and comfort when God says it is time.
“Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent [in our bodies], to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.” (II Corinthians 5:9-11)
There are two separate issues every human being needs to resolve before being ready to die. The first is the issue of guilt and the resulting fear of death and of facing God; the second is the issue of shame for having squandered our time here. And it is quite easy to determine if we have dealt with these issues. Simply fast forward in your mind’s eye to your moment of death–if this were it, would you feel guilty? Would you be afraid of facing God? Or would you feel forgiven and at peace in Christ? If so, would you also feel as if you’ve spent the time God has given you here as He wanted you to, or would you be ashamed that you haven’t done quite enough for His kingdom and wish you had more time left? Interestingly, although they intertwine (it is questionable, for example, if you are a follower of Jesus if you have no fruit for His kingdom) in some ways it almost seems as if these are two separate issues.
1) The first issue is, of course, that of actual conversion–have you agreed with God as to your sin and trusted in the finished work of Jesus on the cross for forgiveness and acceptance? Do you have peace with God? Or–are you afraid of judgment, of facing God? If you do not yet have the peace of His forgiveness and acceptance in Christ, I urge you to resolve this right now, because death can come suddenly and unexpectedly at any moment: “…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27) “…we beg you: do not let the grace [underserved favor] that you received from God be for nothing. God says, ‘At the right time I heard your prayers. On the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you that the ‘right time’ is now, and the ‘day of salvation’ is now.” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2 NCV)
2) The second issue we have to resolve is whether we’ve been obedient–how much of our lives we’ve spent for His purposes:
“But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matthew 13:23)
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents [a unit of money], to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability… (Matthew 25:14-15)
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing…If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” (John 15:5, 7-8)
If you are a child of God, a follower of Christ, have you actually been diligently spending your time here on earth pursuing His purposes, living for and obeying Him–or have you become self-centered, indulging your sin-nature like the wicked servant in this parable:
“And the Lord replied, “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. But what if the servant thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk? The master will return unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant in pieces and banish him with the unfaithful.” (Luke 12:42-46)
We might not not find ourselves reverting back to all of our pre-Christ behaviors, but is there a chance you have become increasingly entangled and preoccupied with the pleasures and distractions of this life–rather than faithfully and consistently continuing at what Jesus assigned you to do for Him and His kingdom–which would cause you shame were you called to give an account sooner than expected?
So, are you ready to die? If you knew that today were your last day of life, would you feel peace knowing that you’ve taken care of everything you need to take care of? Can you rightly say that you have the fear of death and of facing God and the burden of guilt over your sin, as well as any shame for mismanaging your time dealt with? Will you, actually, have something to lay before your Master’s feet?
“…They put their crowns down before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, because you made all things. Everything existed and was made, because you wanted it.” (Revelation 4:10-11 NCV)
Help it be my aim to be well-pleasing to You in all things! Amen.