Yesterday I visited with a friend from church who's mom just passed away. This brother is a believer, as was his mom. As I was talking with him, I noticed the large group of people that were there for the visitation. What I didn't really notice until I was leaving was the joy that they all seemed to express during this time of grief. I've been to parties with less smiles and hugs and laughter! It was a party, a celebration of this dear woman's life, and the people there were happy to see each other!
The significance of this joy struck me as I walked out of the room through a side door, and walked down the hallway past another room where another group of people were receiving visitors. The difference was striking! Words like "gloom" and "dejection" race to my mind. A small group of people with long faces and heads hanging seemed to characterize the mood. I could still hear the laughter and noise from the other room, but silence seemed to fill this one.
I didn't linger; I kept walking. But the difference is clear. One of these groups was exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit. For those who place their trust in Christ's perfect obedience and sacrificial death, we can see even death with joy. If you have ever fought sin, death will be joy! If you have ever physically hurt, death will be joy! If you have ever longed to love God and others with perfect love, death will be joy! And those who remain may be sad, but we can be sad with joy! We know that to be absent from the body means we will be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:1-10).
"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." -- Philippians 1:21