We are looking at the fact our submission to Jesus as Lord provides us with an adequate motive for living.
7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.
8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord.
We may understand the “living to himself,” but what does “die to himself” and “die to the Lord” mean?
“No one of us lives to himself,” does not mean, “every man’s conduct affects others for better or worse, whether he will or not” (see “John Donne” below); it means, “no Christian is his own end in life; what is always present to his mind, as the rule of his conduct, is the will and the interest of his Lord.” (See “Nicoll” below)
What holds true for a Christian in life holds true of his death, too.
He does not choose either the time or the mode of it, like a Roman Stoic, to please himself. He dies when the Lord will, as the Lord will, and even by his death glorifies God. (see Nicoll below).
We belong to the Lord Jesus Christ body and soul! This ought to comfort use greatly. Matthew 10 states—
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Not a sparrow dies without God taking notice. God watches over his children in life and death because they are His.
What about Suicide?
One of the most painful aspects of ministry is dealing with families in the aftermath of suicide. Someone said “suicide is the ultimate insult.” If the perpetrator doesn’t leave a note explaining why, the pain for survivors can be unbearable. “Why didn’t I see the signs?” “Did I cause him/her to do it?” Family members ask questions like, “Is my son in hell for this sin?”
The Catholic Catechism says this about suicide—
2280 Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it… . We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of. (see “Catholic Catechism” below)
I quote the Catholic Catechism often since it deals with most modern ethical issues well, in my opinion.
Suicide perpetrators are responsible for their actions since God alone has the right to take life or assign the taking of life, e.g. God has given the civil magistrate the power of life and death in Romans 13:4—
But if you do evil, be afraid; for [the civil magistrate] does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. (NKJV)
Expositor’s Greek New Testament says this about “the Sword”—
The sword was carried habitually, if not by, then before the higher magistrates, and symbolized the power of life and death which they had in their hands. (See “Nicoll” below.)
However, suicide does not mean that the perpetrator is automatically assigned to hell at the judgment because he or she did not have the right to take life.
2282 Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide. (see “Catholic Catechism” below)
Suicide became a common practice among stoics
when they could not bear their fate
In the absence of a written note, we should assume circumstances intervened that were unbearable, so our loved one took his or her own life. We were not to blame. There were not any signs to see. Our loved one was not in his/her right mind at the time. S/he snapped.
2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. (see “Catholic Catechism” below)
Suicide is a forgivable sin. The only unforgivable sin is rejection of Christ. I have yet to see a suicide where the person wrote, “I don’t believe in God, and I’m taking myself out into the void of nothingness.” There may be cases, but I have not experienced them in 42 years of ministry. And, I have actually seen someone commit suicide. That I’ll never forget!
Our Obligation to Preserve Life
We are obligated by the Fifth Commandment to preserve our own lives as well as the lives of others.
We ought to study these principles so that if we arrive at a hard spot, we won’t be tempted to choose to make a final exit. The Hemlock Society has nothing to teach us. We die unto the Lord Jesus Christ!
The Westminster Shorter Catechism states this about the Sixth Commandment—
Q. 68. What is required in the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment requires all lawful endeavors to preserve our own life, and the life of others.
Q. 69. What is forbidden in the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment forbids the taking away of our own life, or the life of our neighbor, unjustly, or whatsoever tends thereunto. (See “WSC” below)
Drilling this into ourselves and our children will help make suicide less of an option to escape the unbearable.
My grandfather committed suicide. Yes. I said it out loud. At least I wrote it.
“Red” (what we called him) was a WWII veteran of Patton’s Third Army. I foolishly asked him once what war was like. He replied that he had been a machine gunner on a tank. At the Battle of the Bulge, they opened fire on the Nazi Invading Army. He said he fired until his machine gun turned orange and jammed. He waited until it cooled to resume firing. This was repeated over and over again. The Nazi soldiers came in wave after wave after wave. They were 14 and 15 year old boys mostly. That was all that was left in December 1944. He said they mowed them down as fast as they came. I’ll never forget what he concluded with, “At least once a week I see those boys’ faces in my dreams!” I never asked him again such a foolish question.
He had the weight of this on his mind and other missions he had gone on at night, which my mother told me about after she had asked him the same question when she was a girl.
In 1987 he had had enough of life. He had had pneumonia on top of his emphysema in the winter of the previous year. He took a gun with him to take a nap. Sometime later his wife heard what she thought was a car backfire. When she went in later to check on him, she found him. He lived three days with his heart still beating.
I expect to see him in heaven!
God alone is man’s judge and we should entrust our loved one to his care. God knew from the beginning of his life what he would do and it did not diminish God’s love for him. Genesis 18:25 brings me comfort—“Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
Catholic Catechism. “Suicide” section “Fifth Commandment.” [Sixth Commandment in the Protestant Bible]. Accessed 18 June 2018 from http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a5.htm
Donne, John. “No Man is an Island.” I hate that this interpretation ruins John Donne’s great poem. The poem is a literary classic—but not a theological one. Christ decides our terms of life and our terms in regard to our death.
Nicoll, W. R. (1956 reprint). The Expositor’s Greek Testament: Romans. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Accessed 14 June 2018 from https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/romans-14.html
Stoic Suicide Picture. Accessed 18 June 2018 from http://www.traditioninaction.org/History/G_026_Stoic.html
WSC. Accessed May 24, 2018 from http://www.reformed.org/documents/wsc/index.html?_top= http://www.reformed.org/documents/WSC.html
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