Vol. 9, No. 4
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I read the obituary column in the local and area newspapers (online) practically every morning. This is a habit I developed over the years because my family and I have lived in various cities in the state and we know people in every location. In a humorous fashion I might say that I read the daily obituary column to make sure that mine is not listed there.
In the past two weeks I have observed that two different families made the choice to use pictures of their departed loved ones when they were young. The pictures of the two ladies depicted the beauty of their youth. However, at the time of their deaths they both were in their 80s. The obituaries detailed the various activities and accomplishments of these two ladies during their lifetimes and both were very impressive. You know when you have a picture in front of you and reading the obituary of the person it really comes home to you that regardless of the beauty of youth and the achievements attained in life, death will eventually come to each person. The inspired writer informs us in Hebrews 9:27: "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (NKJV). The Preacher in Ecclesiastes 9:5 wrote: "For the living know that they will die." In Ecclesiastes 12 the writer details the aging process from youth to old age and eventually death. I often relate to people who are growing older that "I have observed in life that people who have birthdays have a tendency to live longer." But there comes a time when a "man goes to his eternal home, And the mourners go about the streets" (Ecclesiastes 12:5).
When we appear before the Judge of all the ages, our physical features will not be the criterion of our acceptance or rejection concerning our eternal destiny. In Proverbs 31:30, we learn that "Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised." What is true of the woman is also true of the man. The accomplishments in life will be meaningless unless the individual standing before the Lord was a faithful son/daughter of God.
The apostle Paul achieved much in life and possessed a rich heritage, but listen to what he said about such matters as found in Philippians 3:7-11:
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
It is most important for a person, while in the youth of life, to understand that he/she should live for God, knowing that eventually accountability will have to be given for the manner in which an individual has lived.
Rejoice, O young man in your youth, And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; Walk in the ways of your heart, And in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into Judgment, Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, And put away evil from your flesh, For childhood and youth are vanity. Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, And the years draw near when you say, I have no pleasure in them. (Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:1)
It is indeed sad and regrettable that so many young people seek fame and fortune or become so involved in their profession/work and leave Jesus Christ out of their hearts and lives. They should know that the young do die as well as the fact that old people must die.
As we are often prone to say, "This is the bottom line," and according to the Word of God this is it: "Let us hear the conclusion of this whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). The King James Version renders verse 13 as follows: "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." It is understood that the word "duty" in this verse was supplied by the translators and is not found in the original text. The Septuagint Version has it in this manner: "Hear the end of the matter, the sum: Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole man." The meaning is that the real purpose for every person's existence on this earth is to fear God and obey His will. This will produce happiness and contentment in one's life. When this is done, there is no reason to be afraid to stand before our Lord on the Judgment Day when we will give account of "the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10).
From youth to old age, life is but "a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away" (James 4:14). The young woman's physical beauty fades with the passing of time, and the handsome young man's body becomes weak and is no longer as straight as once it was. Ultimately death, the Grim Reaper, comes to everyone and the "dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 12:7). Only the life lived for the Lord will be rewarded by God's infinite grace, eternal life with God and all the redeemed.