What Does That Mean?
I have spent my life studying and trying to grasp the fullness of teaching recorded in the Bible. I confess that the journey has more undiscovered treasures ahead of me than I have been able to explore thus far. Each time we study God’s Word, it has new meaning. One of the reasons is that we are always at a different stage of life with different needs and different perspectives. Another reason is that we never study a text in exactly the same way. We approach Bible study from historical, grammatical, cultural, illustrative, devotional, and a host of other lenses. Each of those avenues uncovers new facets that make Bible passages vibrant and applicable to life.
I confess that there are those verses that still cause me to ponder and reflect because they are not immediately understandable at first reading. Here are some that seemingly go against what we feel and think.
It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Not how the world thinks!)
Blessed are they that mourn for the shall be comforted. (How many people in our culture would profess that they are happiest when they are weeping?)
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
And, how about this truth that was written by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 7:1 – A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth.
In the course of life, we have had many occasions to celebrate the birth of a baby. Maybe our own, or a grandchild, or a friend’s new arrival. The phones explode in rapid succession of spreading the news. Facebook has photos of mom and baby (and occasionally dad). Any place where the family is known the good news is being told of the safe arrival of a new life.
The same kind of “spreading of the news” occurs at the death of one we love; however, the tone and content of the messages is totally different. If the news is conveyed face-to-face, there is a somber tone, perhaps tears in one’s eyes, a face that is downcast, and hands that are wringing just trying to grasp the reality. Death is certain, but never welcome. It is always intrusive and unwelcome whenever it comes.
So how could Solomon write, “the day of death is better than the day of birth?” It does not mean in the sphere of laughter and celebration. Rather, when a person has lived life to honor God, love family, serve fellowman, be honorable in his dealings, faithful in keeping his word, and morally upright in his living, his life is highly commendable. He or she has lived in such a way that the impact of their life makes a lasting impression on all that knew them. The day of death is not a day of joy that “they are dead”. Rather, it is a day of honoring them for the life lived, and the confidence that they have arrived safely “home” to hear the Father say, “Well done!”. The day of death magnifies the life well lived. The day of birth celebrates the potential of a new life, but how the person will use the opportunities of life is not yet known at birth.
“Live in such a way that those who know you but don’t know God because they know you.” (Copied).