By R.J. Evans
Suppose you knew that you were going to die shortly due to some circumstance beyond your control. What would you do? If this were the case, many people, no doubt, would begin making great changes in their present course of life. Knowing and realizing that time is running short, the true values of life would be easily recognized.
The apostle Paul is an example of one who was in a circumstance where he knew death was imminent. He wrote to Timothy: “For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure is come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give to me at that day. and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:6-8). If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, could you confidently declare today with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith”?
A good friend of mine and fellow-Christian, from Plant City, Florida, gave me a copy of a letter that was written by one of his ancestors during the Civil War. It was written by William O. Tafs to his mother while he was in a camp near Chattanooga, Tennessee, dated November 13, 1863. 1 quote a small portion of the letter:
Be it a pleasure to me to see everybody in the world walking in answer to God, whether I was one of the number or not. Nothing pleases me better than to see or hear of my friends seeking the way to heaven. Mother, you don’t know how much satisfaction it would be to me to be at home with my dear brothers and sisters and go with you all to church. Oh, I think it would be the greatest satisfaction to me of anything in the world, but alas, many miles apart we are, probably never to meet again in this troublesome world. I hope we may meet in Heaven that’s free from sin and sorrow.
These touching words give evidence of the fact that this lonely soldier knew and understood the true values of life. If we who are Christians were in a similar circumstance, would there not be certain things we would clearly realize and seek to accomplish? Such as:
1. We would realize that life is but just “a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (Jas. 4:14).
2. We would go to our loved-ones and friends and express our love for their souls and attempt to teach them the gospel of Christ (Matt. 28:19-20; Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 8:4).
3. We would not use some of the petty excuses that are sometimes given for not attending the assemblies of the saints. We would easily see that the Lord and his cause is much more important than TV programs, ball games, etc. (Matt. 6:33; Heb. 10:25).
4. We would not find it hard to take time to approach the throne of God in prayer, asking him to forgive us of our sins and giving him thanks for all the many blessings he has so bountifully supplied (Phil. 4:6; 1 Thess. 5:17).
5. There might be some to whom we would go to correct some wrong, or maybe just to give them a few kind words of encouragement (Matt. 18:15-17; Gal. 6:1-2; 1 Thess. 2:11; Heb. 10:24-25).
6. We would want to go to others and express our gratitude and appreciation for all the many kind and helpful deeds they have done for which we have neglected to thank them (Phil. 1:3-6; 4:14-20).
7. We would realize the importance of Bible study and would want to learn all that God requires of us (2 Tim. 2:15).
There may be other things that we would do that I have not mentioned, but let us realize that there is a possibility of death coming shortly and a certainty of facing God in the judgment. Bearing this in mind, let’s not wait until it is too late to do some of the things that have been listed. Remember: “And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment” (Heb. 9:27).
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 21, p. 653
November 3, 1988