Do Not Pity the Dead in Christ

Sam Petitfils 

“And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this:Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!’”

Though believers have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:6), they often stray in their thinking from biblical truth. For example, we say things of our departed saints such as, “Dad would have loved to see his grandson’s graduation; how sad that he’s not here to see it.” Or, “Grandma would give anything to come back and see my wedding.” Actually, they would not enjoy coming back at all.

The text describes such believers as in a very nice place. They are “blessed.” This means God bestows good upon them. They are happy indeed, and if we really knew their condition we would not want to drag them back to this sin-plagued world. So the text describes such departed saints as “blessed.” When we call someone “blessed,” we usually think in terms of this life only. But God reserves His finest blessings for the next life.

Why or in what way are they blessed? The text say they have rest from their labors. Of course they no longer labor under the burden of a body grown weakened through age or disease, but the broader context of the Bible implies more than this. Recall from Genesis that God cursed the earth. Since we labor on this earth, we too experience pain laboring under imperfect conditions. Departed saints no longer experience these limitations. The thought is not that we will never work in heaven, but that we will work without pain.

Notice also that God does not forget their good works, in fact, “their deeds follow them.” God does not forget the good things performed by His people in this life (Hebrews 6:10). Jesus is coming and He brings His reward with Him (Revelation 22:12). Those in Christ that preceded us in death have entered into their reward. So far from pitying them, we should rejoice that they now reside with God.

We are tempted to think in terms of this life only. But remember God keeps His promises and we should not sorrow over those who have departed this life in Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

Who should we pity?

We should pity those who do not recognize their need, and we should point them to the truth. We should pity the spiritually smug or forgetful, who only live by appearances. They build for themselves castles in the sand, soon to be dissolved by the waters of time. We should pity those who live only for this life, and neglect the deeper spiritual realities of the next world. We should pity those who exchange the truth for empty promises and attempt to chart their own course.

May God’s name be praised for His rich promises and for the comfort He provides for those left behind. They are in great hands, God’s hands.

Promoted To Glory Hymn
Summoned home, the call has sounded,
Bidding a soldier his warfare cease;
And the song of angels resounded,
Welcomes a warrior to eternal peace.
Praise the Lord! from earthly struggles
A comrade has found release.
Death has lost its sting, the grave its victory;
Conflicts and dangers are over;
See him honored in the throne of glory,
Crowned by the hand of Jehovah!

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