Volunteering for Death

1 Corinthians 15:31 “I die daily.”

Observation: This simple statement comes in the midst of a discourse by Paul on death and resurrection—on the differences between those who have eternal life in Christ and will be given new and imperishable bodies in the resurrection, and those who do not know Christ, but are simply “earthy” (1 Cor.15:48). Paul seemed to be stretching the capacity of human language to find words to express the soaring joy of experiencing the last enemy to be defeated: death. The passage comes to its sweeping, exuberant conclusion with this incredible outburst, much like the concluding phrases of the 1812 Overture or the “Hallelujah Chorus”: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (vv. 54–55).

Application: The grandeur and massive sweep of Paul’s words are overpowering, but I am drawn back to his simple statement, “I die daily.” 

What an odd thing to say in a chapter that celebrates the end of death. And yet, the reality of daily dying to flesh and pride is the key to the door by which I can experience all the rest. This business of laying down my rights, of surrendering control over my time, my money, even my life itself, this is the essential opening of the passageway that leads to eternal life in Christ. 

And that process of voluntary surrender and dying must be done daily; it is never a once-and-for-all kind of thing. My flesh resists, pride screams that it deserves to be supreme, and indeed, as much as I have cultivated pride over the years I’m not surprised that it constantly tries to exalt itself. Yet God calls me to once again lay down all the supposed good stuff of my life as though it was filthy rags, at the foot of His cross, that everything I bring might be covered by His blood as it pours from His broken body. 

I desire better things—things better than life itself: an imperishable body, one raised in power and glory. 

Prayer: Make me a spiritually discerning man, Lord—one who has been so changed into the likeness of Jesus that You would prepare for me a place at the table when You host the wedding feast for Your dear Son and His bride.

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