Summary: What would you do if you knew you were dying? How would you speak to others? What would change?
“Live like you were Dying”
Tug MacGraw, Tim McGraw’s father, was hospitalized with a brain tumor in March 2003. He found out that day that he had cancer and was given three weeks to live-he survived nine months. To MacGraw recorded this song in memory of his father. It is by far one of my favorite songs in country music because when we hear it, it causes most of us to stop and consider a very important question.
How would I live my life if I knew that I was dying? If I knew I only had a short period of time to live how would I live?... How would I make decisions... How would I treat other people?
The apostle Paul who was in jail wrote a letter to the church in Philippi and said Philippians 1:20-26.
Physically something happens; something that changes inside of us, when we are confronted with the possibility of death. Whether it be our own or someone we care deeply about. It causes us to stop and examine our priorities, it causes us to give more thought to our conversations and often we feel compelled to make things right with as many people as possible.
The Jews had 613 commandments to live by. They memorize them but even for the most devout Jew, this was an impossible task. The Pharisees who were all legalists came to Jesus one day and asked him, teacher what is the greatest commandment in the law? Jesus replied, Matthew 22: 37-40.
Jesus made it clear that above all of the law there was nothing more important than showing God’s love to everyone. You and I must learn to love others as deeply as possible. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus gave the disciples a clear example to follow in this area. And this is the way he put it, “I have set for you an example that you should do is I have done to you.” Let me ask you, on a scale of 1-10, how do you rate in this area? If the love of Jesus rated as a 10, what would your number be?
• Jesus said if someone curses at you... Give them a blessing.
• If someone hates you, love them, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you.
• When you encounter the sick, he showed compassion and made them well.
• When no one would have anything to do with those who had leprosy, Jesus spent time with them and healed them.
Now in the South where I was raised we would often just say, the words bless her heart are bless his heart and it suddenly made everything okay. They would say things like…
• She’s as ugly as a mud fence, bless her heart.
• He is as dumb as a bag of bricks, bless his heart
Jesus constantly stood up for the underdog, the hurting, the disadvantaged and John tells us that whoever claims to know Christ must live as Jesus lived. Jesus is our benchmark. Jesus sets the standard for all of us.
You may have noticed something... It is easy love someone who is kind to you; it is easy to love someone who loves you, someone who does kind things for you and speaks kind words to you-but for those who don’t-for those who never have a good word to say to you, always criticizing everything you do, to those who we might even classifies an enemy... It is not easy to love them. Yet that is exactly the person Jesus is referring to.
Paul also tells us that at every opportunity we must learn to overcome evil with good. Let me ask you, when you are gone from this place one day, what are the words you really hope you will be remembered for? Because we will be remembered for the words we have spoken. If you don’t believe me, think about this... Think of the most hateful, harsh words that have ever been spoken to you...That didn’t take long did it? Most of you right now are not only remembering the words, you are remembering the person who said them exactly where you were at the time. The Scripture challenges us to not only love those whom it is easy to love but also love the person you simply cannot stand. And not only love them, but love them deeply. You and I must learn to love others as deeply as possible.
The Paul and James speak frequently about the tongue and the great damage we can cause by the words we speak. Paul gives us an incredible challenge in Ephesians 4 as he says this, do not let any unwholesome word/talk come out of your mouths but only what is helpful for building others up. In other words if it’s not encouraging, don’t say it. If you don’t have something good to say, don’t say it all.