Mortality is not a topic most of us want to think about, until we lose someone close to us, but is whistling past the graveyard good planning?
Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #9 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.
The Old Testament patriarch Methuselah has always intrigued me. First of all, his father, Enoch, was 65 years old before Methuselah was even born. Then Methuselah lived 187 years before he fathered his first son, Lamech. After that he lived another gazillion days, fathering sons and daughters, finally giving up the ghost when he hit, can you believe it, 969 years old!
If I lived as long as Methuselah, I’d have 900 more years to go. It’s unimaginable.
Methuselah lived long enough to see his grandson, Noah, reach 500 years and father Methuselah's great-grandsons, Shem, Ham, and Japeth. Methuselah died just before the Great Flood when his grandsons, mere "boys" at 100 years of age, climbed with their wives into the Ark.
But for all his living, the phrase that jumps off the pages of Scripture is just three words: "and he died" (Gen. 5:27). Methuselah, who lived longer than any human being in history, still died.
Scripture makes it plain: “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27).
All men and women die, handsome or beautiful, rich or poor, educated and illiterate, famous – infamous – unknown, angels of mercy like Mother Teresa and evil doers like Adolph Hitler, every creed and race: “red, yellow, black, and white, they are precious in his sight”…they all die.
There's a gravestone in Kent, NY. It commemorates the life of Howard Russell who died in 1852, and it says this:
Remember youth as you pass by
As you are now, so once was I
As I am now, so you will be,
Prepare for death and follow me.
Whether you think that’s funny or sobering, I guess, depends upon your mood.
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Death is certain, we know, but the real question is, are we prepared for it?
We can think about this question on two related levels: spiritually and practically.
Spiritually, we each must consider our relationship with God. Have you personally responded to the Good News of John 3:16? “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
If you know Jesus Christ as your Savior, death loses its frightfulness. You can say with the Apostle Paul, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" (I Cor. 15:55.)
Practically, the “Are you prepared” question is a good reminder that God expects us to be good stewards of all that is put in our hands—time, talent, treasure.
For the good of our family, the most basic practical thing we can consider is getting our estate plan in place. Isn’t it amazing that about 60% of American adults do not even have a will? Or maybe I should say, they do not have their own will,
because if they die intestate (meaning with no will), the state of their residence will step in with a government-defined will for them. That’s right, if you don’t have a will, bureaucrats and legalese get to decide what happens to your assets.
And on top of the 60% with no will, another 30% have a will that’s out of date.
That was us. My wife and I set up wills when we were 38 years old with four children in the house then didn’t look at the wills for another thirty years. Awhile back we took care of that, getting updated wills and setting up a family living trust that will protect our family from probate.
Did you know, too, that only about 9% of people’s estate plans leave a charitable gift to a faith-based organization? People who have lived generously all their lives, tithed regularly, perhaps supported multiple ministries, often make no provision for Christian ministry in their wills and trusts.
Why? Probably because they were never taught to consider this kind of gifting, never thought of it at the time, and no one reminded them.
Meanwhile, the biblical command of stewardship is clear. It’s about God granting to us all that we have: our time, talent, treasure, and then charging us with responsibility and accountability to be faithful caretakers – another word for “stewards.” God wants us to care for the disposition of our assets in a manner that glorifies him.
In 1789 in a sermon entitled “The Use of Money,” the great preacher, theologian, and scholar John Wesley said, “Earn all you can, Save all you can, Give all you can.” He was not advocating materialism but rather using one’s assets to further Kingdom values. Giving is a part of stewardship.
Well, after 969 years, even Methuselah died. From the perspective of an eternal God, Scripture reminds us, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). This does not mean human beings don’t matter, just that their appointed days on earth are short.
We make jokes about the Grim Reaper or that Father Time is undefeated. But what matters is whether we honor God by being good stewards of all with which he has entrusted us.
If you have not looked at your legal documents for years, or even more, if you don’t have a will and family living trust, I strongly encourage you to take steps today to get your will and trust in place.
You can learn more and gain free assistance by checking the website of the ministry with which I serve. You can find a lot of information including videos at sat7usa.org.
Death might be a no-fun topic, but I'm looking forward to meeting Methuselah in heaven someday.
Well, we’ll see you again soon. For more Christian commentary, be sure to subscribe to this podcast, Discerning What Is Best, or check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s rexmrogers.com. And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.
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