Last fall, I was out for a walk through the sugar maples. The colours were brilliantly red – some of the most vibrant I have ever seen. The air was crisp and the pictures I took turned out wonderfully. Someone commented about the beauty of the fall colours by saying, “There’s a beauty in dying well.”
I’ve thought about that expression a lot. Death looks grim to us – full of pain and suffering. And yet, just as leaves change colour and reveal a vibrancy as they die, the same is true in Christians. Death is part of our daily experience as believers. Paul would say, “I die daily” (1 Cor. 15:31). There is a death to self that continually happens in the Christian life. By living for Christ, we put to death the desires of the flesh (Rom. 8:13).
And as we put to death the misdeeds of the body, we do not live for ourselves, but for Christ. And Christ’s life becomes more predominantly displayed through us. How this happens is that there is both a daily death and the promise of resurrection. Those things that are not aligned with the will of God are put to death over and over. In due time there is something gloriously displayed – something new and beautiful is being worked out in us and through us –changing wus from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18).
As we learn to die daily, putting to death the misdeeds of the body, we are preparing ourselves for the glorious reality of the end of our earthly lives. Dying well at the end of our lives doesn’t begin to happen in those final moments where we take the last breath. It happens when we face our disappointments, griefs, and sorrows, and we face down sin and temptation by the power of the Spirit. Dying well at the end begins with living well now. Resurrection power is already at work within us (Eph. 1:19-20).
Today, you have an opportunity to die well. Let your selfish desires be seen for what they are. Let your struggles refine in you a weight of glory that outweighs the momentary pleasures of this life. Glory awaits! Glory is being prepared even now! Dying daily is a beautiful thing when we know the promise of the resurrection is being worked out in us day by day, for we were raised to newness of life in the resurrection power of the Spirit.
So let today be a day of dying and rising again. The old is gone. The new has come! All this is from God who reconciled us to himself and has given us a death and resurrection ministry – a ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:17-18).