1 Corinthians 15:31
I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our LORD, I die daily.
1. In a certain sense we all do this. The very moment we begin to live we commence to die. The whole of our life is like an ebbing tide.
2. Of some also this may be affirmed in a very painful and unhappy sense. They die daily because they feel a thousand deaths in fearing one. "Through fear of death they are all their lifetime subject to bondage." They are afraid to die, and yet are so fascinated by death that they cannot take their eyes from off it.
3. Paul used this expression in an heroic sense; every day he deliberately put his life in jeopardy for the cause of Jesus Christ. In these more silken days, we cannot run such serious risks. We know professors who cannot imperil their business or venture the breaking of some fond connection for the sake of Christ. Alas! many are ashamed of Jesus.
4. Our text we shall now take in a practical spiritual sense. Note —
I. SOME PREVIOUS NECESSARIES FOR THE PRACTICE OF THIS ART. The Christian —
1. Must be willing to die; for if he shall shrink at death, and covet life, it will be a miserable necessity to him that he will have to die one day. In order that a man should be willing to die daily he must be a saved man, and know it.
2. Must be even desirous of departure, and cheered with the hope of the better land. To an ungodly man, to die can never be a thing to be desired, for what remaineth to him after death? But to the believer death is gain.
3. Should have a good understanding, and a clear knowledge as to what death really is, and what are the matters that follow upon it. What is it to die? Is it to cease to be? Is it to part with every comfort? If so, we might indeed be excused if we shut our eyes to the dreary prospect. To die is nothing, but to be at once with Jesus in paradise.
II. WHEREIN IT CONSISTS.
1. To consider every day the certainty of death. We are but strangers and sojourners; we are only right when we act as such. The Lord knowing that we should try to shake off the remembrance of death, has so helped us as almost to force us to it; by —
(1) The frequent departures of others. God rings the funeral knell in our ears, and bids us remember that the bell may next toll for us.
(2) The course of nature. Look at the year travelling from spring to winter, and the day from morning to night. Every flower blooms that it may wither.
(3) The premonitions of death in ourselves. What is that grey hair but the foretoken of the coming winter which shall freeze the life current? What are those aches and pains, that decay of the eyesight, that dulness of hearing, those tottering knees? Don't avoid these thoughts because they seem sombre; familiarise yourself a little with the grey tints of death, and they will brighten before your eyes.
2. To put your soul, by faith, through the whole process of death. Anticipate the final stroke, the upward mounting, the eternal beatific vision.
3. To hold this world with a very loose hand. Birdlime so much abounds. When a man wins a little gain it sticks to him. Our dear friends and children are all strong chains, binding our eagle-souls to the rock of earth. "Ah," said one, as he was shown a rich man's ample house and luxuriant gardens, "these are the things that make it hard to die." Our bereavements would not be half so sharp if we always viewed our friends as being lent to us. A man does not cry when he has to return a tool which he has borrowed. Rejoice to say, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away," etc.
4. To test our hope and experience every day. Alas! for that evil habit of taking our religion for granted. Each day examine yourself whether you be in the faith. The man who is in a sound business does not object to overhaul his stock and examine his books; but the man to whom bankruptcy is imminent generally seeks to shut his eyes to his actual position.
5. To come every day, just as you did at conversion, to the Cross of Christ; and if you can always live as a lost sinner saved wholly by a precious Saviour, you are then fit to live and fit to die.
6. To take care to be always in such a place and state that we should not be ashamed to die therein. Hence, the believer has no licence to be found in places of ungodly amusement. The Christian, also, should never be in a state of temper in which he would be ashamed to die.
7. To have all our affairs in such a condition that we are ready to die.
(1) Whitefield would not go to bed until everything was in order, for he said, "I should not like to die with a pair of gloves out of place"; and yet I know some believers who have not made their wills, and if they were to die to-day a wife whom they love so well might be put to serious suffering.
(2) So should it be with all our acts towards God. Some of you have not yet fulfilled the Master's command with regard to baptism. Some of you have unconverted children, and you have not spoken to them about their souls.
III. ITS PRACTICAL BENEFIT.
1. It will help us to live well. We should not be covetous and grasping if we knew that the heap would soon melt or we should be taken from it. We should not attach so much importance to trifles, if we felt that there were grander things close at our heels. If we saw our candle flickering in its socket, we should be far more diligent.
2. It will help us to die. No man would find it difficult to die who died every day. He would have practised it so often, that he would only have to die but once more.
3. The benefits of dying daily are commensurate —
(1) With the whole period of human existence. You young people would not be likely to plunge into youthful gaieties to your own damage, if you felt that you might die young. You men of middle age, how it would check you in that hasting to be rich, if you felt that you must soon be parted from it! And you who totter on a staff, nothing will keep you in holier or happier frame than to be always dying the death of Jesus that you might live His life.
(2) With every position. Is a Christian rich? he will not be purse-proud. Is he poor? He will not murmur, for he recollects the streets of gold. If he is seeking after knowledge, he will mingle with it the knowledge of Christ crucified. If he be toiling for a livelihood, he will seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Make a believer a king or a pauper, and the art of dying daily will help him in either position. Put him under every temptation, and this will help him, for he will not be tempted by the offers of so brief a happiness. Daily dying is as useful to the saint in his joys as in his griefs, in his exaltations as in his depressions.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.