Responding to the Death of a Saint
Last week, we learned about Dorcas, who made a difference in the lives of the people around her (Acts 9:36-42). She’s not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible, but there’s no question she left a legacy. But what we also learn from this story is an appropriate way to respond when a “disciple” (v. 36) of Jesus passes away. The widows, who were recipients of Dorcas’ charitable deeds, are present in the upper room, paying their respects to Dorcas (v. 39).
Keep in mind: One of the purposes of scripture is to equip us for everything (II Tim. 3:17). And one of those realities is death (Eccl. 3:2).
A time to mourn: Christians are not immune to pain when people die. It is not scripturally wrong for Christians to mourn (Acts 9:39; Gen. 23:1-2; Acts 8:2; John 11:35). If mourning was an emotion Jesus experienced, then it certainly is an emotion we can experience. In mourning, we remember the person and find healing (Eccl. 7:2-4). And when it comes to the death of a saint, we do not mourn in the same way the world does. We mourn in hope (I Thess. 4:13).
A time to remember: “The memory of the righteous is blessed” (Prov. 10:7). The life of the one who has passed away needs to be remembered and honored. But it’s also a time to remember that death is the consequence of sin (Gen. 2:16-17, 3:17-19; Rom. 5:12-14). Death is the real enemy (I Cor. 15:26), but Jesus has taken the sting out of death (v. 55-57). Additionally, death is a time to remember that heaven is our ultimate home. This world is not our home. Our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20).
A time to celebrate: Dorcas left a legacy. She left behind a lifetime of faithfulness, as did many followers of God before and after her (Heb. 11). Our works will follow us into eternity (Rev. 14:13). When we depart from this world, our good works will influence those who remain. One of the ways we can respond to death is by talking about the person. Celebrate their life. Learn from their life. Allow their life to inspire us.