Thanatopsis Can Mean Life or Death!
10/22/2008 | Author: RCW
  • Last night I attended a visitation for my wife's grandmother. She was 97.

It was one of the most crowded visitations I have ever seen. About 800 people passed through over a 4 hour period to pay their respects to the family and see the deceased one last time. The funeral home where the visitation was held bore her name, she being its original owner, though even now it (and several others) is still being run by my father-in-law.

This afternoon the services were held at the Funeral Home and I was reminded of the power which resides in a believer. The stories, testimonies, and tributes that were paid to Mrs. Eaton were overwhelming. Her spiritual life left a faith legacy that will endure for many years.


  • Take a minute right now and think about your own life.

Is there a single passion that drives you? What would people have to say about you when you die? We often don't like to think about our own death, but the truth of the matter is that the Bible seems to encourage it!

Take for example such passages like:

Philippians 2:3-4 : "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."

Ephesians 5:15 : "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise."

Psalm 139:23-24 : "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way."

Philippians 3:18-19 : "For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies to the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite and whose glory is in their shame, who set their mind on earthly things..."

This last example is especially useful since it employs one of the most frequently used metaphors that the Bible uses in admonishing us to live the examined life. For you will notice that when it speaks of this manner of living, it is with the metaphor of "walking". For example, in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament, the expression the writers will use the regular verb of "walk" to speak of "the way in which one lives his or her life." So, for instance, if you go to and type in a keyword search for "walk" , you will find that in Deuteronomy 11, both meanings are used nearly side by side:

"Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." -Deut. 11:19

"If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow—to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways and to hold fast to him." -Deut. 11:22

Another good passage to see the Bible encouraging the reader to live an examined life is the rather poetic personification of wisdom in Proverbs 9:1-10, which reads:

"Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars.
She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table.
She has sent out her maids, and she calls from the highest point of the city.
'Let all who are simple come in here!' she says to those who lack judgment.
'Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed.
Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding.'
Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse.
Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you.
Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.
'The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding...' "

*(The bold-texted areas in the passage above are my own added emphasis and not of course in the original text.)

And these are only a few Biblical examples among many I could choose!


  • Even so, the Bible is not the only place that we find the encouragement to truly look deeply and intently at our own lives and ask critical questions about ourselves.

Perhaps the most well-known phrase attributed to the founder of Western philosophy, Socrates, is the statement: "The unexamined life is not worth living."

What a gripping statement! As you think for a moment about one of the most central realities to mankind (death and life), ask yourself: "What kind of life am I leading? Is my life lived by impulses or whims? Or am I someone who 'lives on purpose' ? What governs my decisions? Is that governing impulse a worthy one or a selfish one? How can I live a life worth living?" These are questions that should be a part of every believers daily routine. Like inhaling and exhaling, so should the believing Christian inhale (examine) and exhale (implement any necessary changes).

What kind of legacy will YOU leave behind?

  • Glance back up for a minute at Psalm 139:23-24.

Our own prayer should mimic that prayer : God, may I be obedient to the Bible and make my life one that is worth living. Make me examine my own live every day to see where I need to change. Where my self and where what's right conflict....may I be the one to change. Do this in me, I pray. Amen.

*For those still wondering about the title of this blog entry, the word "THANATOPSIS" means "a meditation upon death." If this definition was unclear to you at the beginning, think about the title of this entry once more. *


This entry was posted on 10/22/2008 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.