As an educator, I'm often reminded of the important role teachers and their lessons play in our lives. Certain lessons stand out above others in my educational career and I think about them from time to time as I teach my students as well. Over the last few days our world has been grieving, mourning, and trying to process the death of famed athlete, Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and the other members of a terrible helicopter crash. As we all listen and watch the coverage of this tragedy I can't help but be reminded of the brevity of life and the sobering lesson we all must learn from: death. In the pain of loss, God's word uses death to provide us with valuable lessons which we must take heed of.
Hebrews 9:27 tells us, "And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." There is a reality to death unlike anything we face. The words "it is appointed" call out to each of us. Saints and sinners, rich or poor, male and female, young or old, every race and ethnicity is given the everlasting truth that death is no respecter of persons. Facing the reality of death leads us to think on the lessons which God so lovingly provides us through this teaching tool. Although it may not be ideal, it is certainly healthy to think on our humanity and what awaits us in the inevitability of eternity.
The first lesson death teaches us is to make time count. Psalm 90:12 says, "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom." Life is short and eternity is long. We only get one chance at this and it's not dress rehearsal. No one knows the number of days we have on this earth, but one thing is certain and that is we have less days now than we had yesterday.
Our second lesson death teaches us is eternal values. Death reminds all of us to live for things which will out-live ourselves. One of our great fears in life should not be of dramatic failures or shortcomings, but actually achieving goals and status in life which don't really matter. Jesus poses the question in Mark 8:36 "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" What a statement in light of our culture and obsession with material possessions and position in life! This ought to cause all of us to reevaluate our priorities and listen to the instruction of our Savior as He weighs the balance of death and life.
Death's third lesson teaches us the importance of relationships. Never take people for granted. Relationships are at the heart of who we are and why we were created. We should cherish every moment and experience. Don't be afraid to say "I love you," hug often, settle disagreements quickly, be the first to say "I'm sorry" and forgive others daily. In reading the scriptures and contemplating the reality of death I believe we should live in such a way that we have no regrets with the people who matter most to us.
Death also teaches us to underline the importance of being prepared. The later part of Hebrews 9:27 which I shared earlier says, "and after this the judgement." There is only one way to be prepared for death and His name is Jesus. Romans 6:23 states, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." You don't have to worry about your eternal destination when you are in Christ. His assurance goes beyond all doubt and slams the door shut on the grip of death which consumes so many with fear. Obviously, there is apprehension about the process of death, but because of the finished work of Jesus and His gift of salvation we can live in confidence that eternity is something to look forward to with great expectation instead of anxious dread.
The fifth and final lesson we learn from death is that there are results to life's choices. Scripture clearly defines two (and only two) eternal destinations, heaven and hell. Knowing this truth, no one should live an undecided life. We're encouraged in 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 that the sting of death is swallowed up in the power and grace of Jesus Christ. However, for those who have not put their faith in Christ and called on Him to save their soul they will spend eternity separated from God in torment and their decision to reject their Redeemer will haunt them forever. What a tragic ending for those poor souls.
Don't let eternal ruin be the epitaph of your life. Call out to Jesus while there's still time and repent. Turn to Him and place your faith in the King of Kings only to receive grace and mercy in return. Listen to the lessons which death teaches us and lean in on the Bible's instruction regarding this reality check. Live each day to the fullest and in honor of the glory of God. Pursue the things which matter most and value your time. Love people and cherish the moments spent with them. Be prepared, choose wisely, and always remember the words of Hebrews 9:27, "It is appointed..."