When you hear of deaths, often the news comes flooding. Three high-ranking officials died in two weeks. On January 6th the BaPedi king Thulare Victor Thulare III died. Yesterday, January 20th Chief Billy Mampuru died, also in Limpopo. Today, Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu died. Two died of COVID-related complications and the other of diabetes. I received a call this morning from a good friend saying her brother-in-law died. He landed up in hospital for some illness, and when they operated on Monday, they found him ridden with cancer. They closed him up, and he died today.
The point I would like to bring home today is that death is mostly sudden, unexpected, unpreventable and final. Most of us understand that death will come our way. We know that it could come in many ways … COVID, illness, disease, accident and even on purpose … but we steer away from the fact that death could come very soon.
When you think of the BaPedi king, you remember the struggle his nation went through trying to sort out a successor to the throne, which was finalized in May 2020 … and he died in January 2021 at the age of 40.
When you think of Jackson Mthemba, you remember a 62-year-old veteran politician who did so much to defuse tensions with the political opposition and to right the wrongs from the previous administration. Today, after two weeks of COVID, he is dead.
Surely, death is mostly sudden, unexpected, unpreventable and final. But what legacy does one leave? Three of the four I mention above were unknown to me. The fourth, Jackson Mthembu was known through his high profile position in Parliament and then in the Presidency. One of the attractive attributes was his smile. Though … today a lady spoke of him as a church member. She said he always arrived early and greeted and spoke to as many as possible. After the service he did the same. He took time to fellowship with and enquire as to the health and struggles of the Church Body. Not only will he be missed by his party and the opposition but by his church people to.
So, mostly death comes sudden, unexpected, unpreventable and is final. We cannot live our lives on earth without a thought about eternity because death being is mostly sudden, unexpected and unpreventable. You might challenge me, saying that Martha and Mary’s brother Lazarus was given a second change after being dead and already decaying … but he was raised by Jesus.
Friend, death is final and what has been left undone when you die remains just that … undone. By this I am not thinking so much about sorting out possessions or making certain the spouse is cared for, as I’m thinking about the spiritual and eternal. We all know that death is coming and we all know that mostly it will be sudden as in unexpected. It was also be unpreventable as in unstoppable … and it will be final as in what one did not get to (whatever that might be) will remain like that, because once dead there is no return. I am sure we understand all of this. So let’s think about how we ought to prepare for our coming death!
Make certain you are right with God. Go through the Gospel requirements regularly and make certain you tick all the boxes correctly. You must never take your salvation for granted. To prevent false hope, your salvation must be proved genuine. Read through Peter’s Pentecost preaching in Acts 2. Track each point as he makes his case to the Jews about Jesus being the promised Messiah … and when you get to verse 37, see whether you can understand what Luke meant by saying the people were “cut to the heart”. They were under conviction and responded correctly:
Ac 2:37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Peter’s response needs more explanation than I’m giving here, but they were to:
- Repent … turn from their worthless, dead religion and turn to what Jesus offers.
- Be Baptised … identify themselves with the way of Jesus, publically showing their allegiance to Him as LORD and KING.
Ac 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
Make certain you are travelling light. Seek to live a holy life and when you sin … seek pardon and cleansing immediately. Don’t leave the slate filthy … especially overnight! Keep short accounts with God.
1 Jon 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Make certain you gather spiritual knowledge, insight and wisdom. Knowledge is gained by knowing the Bible. Through this insight is secured as to the ways God works. Wisdom is taking the knowledge and insight gained and doing all of life the way God wants you to.
Ps 119:33 Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end.
34 Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart.
35 Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.
36 Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.
37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.
(Read the whole of Psalm 199 if possible.)
Make certain that as far as you know, there can be no finger pointing. If you have offended anyone or have committed a public sin, deal with it and leave a clean slate lest you cause others to fall through your example.
Make certain your love for Jesus deepens. Fall in love with Jesus daily. Tell Him how much you love Him and appreciate what He has done for you. Meditate upon Luke 10:27:
Lk 10:27 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.”
Make certain you are innocent of the blood of all people, that you have not on purpose prevented anyone from hearing the Gospel or entering the Kingdom.
Ac 20:26 “I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men.”
Make certain your greatest desire is to be with Jesus in glory. (Read Colossians 3:1-3!) “set your hearts on things above” … “set your minds on things above”.
Dear God, because death comes unexpectedly and is final, please help me to get ready for that day. Amen.