Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Personal Death Sentence

Recently I started reading through the book of 2 Corinthians and this verse in chapter one stood out to me:
9 Indeed, we personally had a death sentence within ourselves, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.
It's one of those verses that makes you read it a couple times and ask, what? How do you have a death sentence within yourself? What does that even mean?

The more I thought about the verse, the more beautiful it became to me. I began wishing that I could do the same, have a personal death sentence within myself, because it paints a picture of what trust in God truly looks like.

I think we trust in ourselves far too often. We believe in what we can accomplish, we revel in our successes, we trust in our abilities. It's all about what we can do, until we can't. And then what happens?

In the verse before this one, Paul writes about an affliction that he experiences in which he was completely overwhelmed, beyond his strength, and he despaired of life (verse 8). Isn't that usually when we realize that we need help? When we're at the end of our rope, the end of our strength, we suddenly realize we can't. That's when we look for help.

That's usually when our trust in self gets an automatic death sentence. We don't kill it ourselves, it gets killed for us when we can't succeed. But what would it look like to give our trust of self a death sentence every day, before we could even try?

After reading this verse, I began to long to do just that. To begin each day with a personal death sentence so that I wouldn't trust in myself or my abilities, but in God who raises the dead. Then I would know it was Him. He was the one doing the accomplishing, giving life, working powerfully in me. I could trust in Him before I even began to fail on my own.

I've never seen someone be raised from the dead, but I believe in resurrection. I imagine what it must be like, because I've seen loved ones die. You've mourned, grieved the loss, you know that person is gone. But then suddenly, that person is alive! I imagine myself like Mary at the tomb. She doesn't recognize Jesus until he simply speaks her name. What wonder, what joy, what power!

To believe in the God who can raise the dead is to believe in the God who has power. Jesus overcame death in His own resurrection and now that power is ours through Him. As 1 Corinthians 15:57 states,
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
Victory. Life. Power. I would rather rely on that kind of power than my feeble attempts at accomplishing great things on my own.

I want 2 Corinthians 1:9 to be my life verse: death first, death within myself, death that I have chosen for myself. Death so that powerful Life may work through me. So that God, who raises the dead, might accomplish great things through me.
So the one who boasts must boast in the Lord. For it is not the one commending himself who is approved, but the one the Lord commends. (2 Corinthians 10:17-18)

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