Hippocrates after curing many diseases himself fell sick and died. the Chalaei foretold the deaths of many, and then fate caught them too. Alexander, and Pompeius, and Caius Caesar, after so often completely destroying whole cities, and in battle cutting to pieces many ten thousands of cavalry and infantry, themselves too at last departed from life. Heraclitus, after so many speculations on the conflagration of the universe, was filled with water internally and died smeared all over with mud. And lice destroyed Democritus; and other lice killed Socrates.1
Aurelius was evidently mistaken about Socrates’ cause of death, but his overall point rings true: death conquers even those who are powerful and who help others to stave off death.
The Bible urges us to live in a particular way in view of this certain mortality. Consider the following points:
- Time is always limited. We must work while we have time (John 9:4).
- Whatever of Earth’s goods we accumulate during life will all be left after we die (Psalms 49:17; Ecclesiastes 2:18).
- We must use time on earth for helping others to be saved (Philippians 1:24-25).
- We do not know the hour in which we will depart this life (James 4:14-17).
- Death is no tragedy for those who are right with God (Psalms 116:15).
If we do not die physically, it will be because the Lord returns first. But we still must be prepared as to not die spiritually in the event of the Lord’s return prior to our death. Peter wrote,
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness … (2 Peter 3:10-11; cf. Matthew 24:44).
On that final day, we will not regret the time we spent in service to the Lord. Whereas today we may, due to spiritual immaturity, regret not spending our time in worldly pursuits, on that final day we will be glad that we grew in sacrificial living. We will not regret a moment spent in prayer, worship, and service. We will be immortally thankful that we conformed to the Lord’s will rather than to the lost and dying world (Romans 12:1-2).
Great Books of the Western World, ed. Robert M. Hutchins, 54 vols. (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1952), 12:260. ↩