1 Corinthians 15:31
I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our LORD, I die daily.
There is a well known picture which represents a band of gladiators who are going to fight in the Roman Amphitheatre; with shields lifted and bowed heads, they address the Emperor thus — "Ave Caesar! Morituri te salutant (Hail Caesar! we are going to die, salute thee). And so they go to the hard fight which can only have one ending. St. Paul was thinking of such a scene (vers. 31, 32). He would have us understand that we are all God's gladiators sent into the arena of this world to fight, and that in that battle we must turn our eyes to Christ, and ever say, Hail, Master! we who are dying daily, salute Thee."
I. WE MUST FIGHT.
1. This world is one long battle to the Christian. It is the coward alone who yields without a struggle, who gives himself up as the slave of sin.
(1) Sometimes God's gladiators are called to fight with wild beasts out in this busy world. The sins and temptations of society, the evil words and works of our fellow-men meet us.
(2) Sometimes the wild beast is caged within ourselves. It may be the lion of our angry, cruel temper, or of a proud rebellious spirit, or of an impure desire, or of a faithless, discontented thought.
2. And there is but one thing for us to do, we must fight or perish. Some of the hardest battles are fought by our bedside, or when we lie, like the sinful woman, prostrate in the dust, where Jesus wrote His words of pardon.
II. WE MUST DIE.
1. God's gladiators can only come out of the battle when death sets them free; they leave their bodies scarred by many a wound, to rest here on the battle-field of earth, but God's angels bear their spirits to paradise. Every day we live we see a comrade falling in the ranks of battle, but still the Church marches on to victory; another fills his place. In the American war a wounded soldier heard the bugles of the enemy close at hand; weak as he was, he crawled out of the ambulance, and seizing a rifle, tried to march to the front. The doctor assured him that he was too feeble, and that the exertion would kill him. "If I must die," said the soldier, "I would rather die in battle than in an ambulance."
2. Happy are God's gladiators who die fighting. There are signs and tokens all around to show us that we die daily. Read the dim writing of old letters, look at your book of photographs, turn tenderly to the dead flowers between the leaves of your Bible, or gaze on the picture which childish fingers coloured, what do they say to us? We understand now what these relics say to us, "Behold, we die daily." The vacant places around us teach us that our place will one day know us no more, that we, like our brethren, shall pass to the land which has never been surveyed, and the great secret which is between God and His creatures. But not till our fight is over, and our work finished, "man is immortal till his work is done."
III. WE MUST EVER LOOK UNTO JESUS, WHO WILL RAISE UP FROM THE DEAD.
(H. J. W. Buxton.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.