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Digging Deeper: “Let Death Be Your Teacher”

By Brandon Lemons

“Do you want to gain wisdom in how to live a meaningful, God-glorifying life? Go to a funeral.” This is the advice in Ecclesiastes 7:1-6. For instance, verses 1-2 say: “The day of death is better than the day of birth. It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.” Thinking about our own mortality, about our limited time on earth, helps bring clarity to what really matters in life. In this sense, funerals can be better teachers than parties.

During Sunday’s sermon on Ecclesiastes 7, I shared about a couple of funerals I attended recently.

At one funeral, for Dave, no one talked about the size of Dave’s house, the type of car he drove, what his job was, how much money he had, where he went to school, what sports he played, or how well he kept his yard. Instead, person after person testified to Dave’s love for Jesus and Scripture, his love for people, and the way he invested in people’s spiritual growth. It was a good reminder of what really matters in life.

The other funeral was for a younger woman named Megan. In college, Megan had the assignment of writing her own epitaph; she took the assignment seriously and revisited her epitaph periodically through the years. She listed nine godly qualities she wanted to characterize her life. After learning about this epitaph, I and others found it remarkable how these nice qualities lined up so well with how Megan lived and how we had been describing Megan. This demonstrates the power of intentionally considering what really matters in life.

I shared to take-away points during Sunday’s sermon:

  • Recognize your limited time on earth, think deeply about what really matters, and put it into practice.

  • Recognize your limited time on earth, and be prepared to meet God after you die.

I encourage you to take a few minutes to reflect on some questions based on Ecclesiastes 7:1-6. As you reflect on these questions, you might find it helpful to write out your thoughts and responses. It’s important to take your time and be honest. Also, it would be good to talk with God about your responses.

  • In light of my own limited time on earth, what qualities do I want to characterize my life? Consider writing them out in the form of an epitaph.

  • How confident am I to stand in judgment before God after I die? Am I trusting in Jesus alone for salvation, or do I think my good works or religious activities are enough to get me into heaven?

If the topics and questions during the Ecclesiastes series are troubling for you, you’re not alone! We are diving into some difficult emotional and spiritual territory. In the upcoming weeks, we will continue to discover the meaning God has for our lives; however, if at any time you feel overwhelmed or depressed over these topics, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or another staff member.


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