“A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one’s birth” (Ecclesiastes 7:1).
OUR CELEBRATIONS SAY A LOT ABOUT OUR VALUES AND PRIORITIES. For example, we send CONGRATULATORY cards to friends when they have a new baby, but if the same friends had a loved one who died and went to heaven, we’d send them a SYMPATHY card. What are the values that cause us to celebrate a birth and not a death? Do we agree with the text in Ecclesiastes 7:1 or not?
“The day of death [is better] than the day of one’s birth” is not a UNIVERSAL statement, of course. Death’s not better in every way, just some ways. But the text implies that the ways in which death is better are VERY IMPORTANT. In other words, when all the pros and cons have been added up, death has more pluses than minuses.
But it’s only for the person SAVED FROM SIN that death has more pluses. To die in sin, having rejected God’s conditions for grace and forgiveness, is to suffer the worst fate possible for a human being. Others may have benefited from his life, but as far as THAT person is concerned, it would be better if he’d never been born.
But at least for the faithful Christian, there should be a sense of relief as he or she nears the end of life. If most of the storms are behind and the harbor is in sight, shouldn’t there be a joyful sense of completion and closure at journey’s end? Is not “the end of a thing . . . better than its beginning” (Ecclesiastes 7:8)? As a writer, I can tell you that the joy of finishing a book far outweighs the excitement of beginning a new one. And with heaven on the last page, the “book” of our earthly life should be a joy to finish too.
In reality, a baby’s birth into this world is a melancholy event, one of those experiences that the wise call “bittersweet.” Naturally we rejoice, but we also know that pain and sorrow lie ahead for the child. The gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life (Matthew 7:14). It is through many tribulations that we enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). So isn’t some kind of celebration in order when the fight has been fought and the race has been run? When we act as if it is better to have our temporal life in front of us, what are we thinking? Whose value system are we using when we pronounce birth totally “good” and death totally “bad”?
“A man should be mourned at his birth, not at his death” (Charles de Secondat Montesquieu).
Gary Henry – WordPoints.com