Die to Live


One of my favourite television programs of all time is the Band of Brothers. My favourite episode in that series concerns a Lieutenant Spiers. In that episode, Easy Company had emerged from a torrid time in a forest in Bastogne under freezing conditions. They were asked to take over the little town of Foy from the Germans. Easy Company was under the charge of an ineffectual commander and couldn’t break through the German lines until Spiers stepped up and took over. Spiers stepped up, took command and lead from the front. He blazed through and ran from one vantage point to another, methodically and courageously picking out snipers and artilleries. His brave feats lead Easy Company to complete victory and overcame the enemy.

Later as the men took a well earned rest, someone asked Spiers how he did it. What was his classic reply? He said:

The only hope you have is to accept the fact that you’re already dead. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you’ll be able to function as a soldier is supposed to function: without mercy, without compassion, without remorse. All war depends upon it.

To function as a soldier, one has to accept that he is already dead. The sooner that acceptance occurs, the better you’ll be able to function.

Dying to self is essential to effective function. He is no fool to give up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose. These were the words of Jim Elliot the missionary who gave up his life in Ecuador.

The Bible has always taught giving up of self. The elevation of self is the greatest lie the devil perpetuated to continue to suppress man and deny him the fullness of life that self sacrifice was meant to bring. Leave the 99 sheep behind to seek that one lost sheep and forgetting the nine coins in order to find the one which is lost. Giving up what we have – which we can’t keep – to find the greater gift given by God – which we can’t lose.

The devil seeks to stoke our egos, our self. Genesis 3:4 has the serpent saying to Eve

4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Elevating man to the status of God seems on the surface, to be fulfilling man’s “purpose” but in fact is the death knell that sees man separated from God. To truly live, the self is to first die.

To move forward, one is asked to first lay down himself to the extent of death. Jesus has shown us what this means. In John 12:23

23Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

We are asked to remember His death for our sake and to seek to forget ourselves and focus on Him. Let us embrace the Copernicus revolution and accept we are not at the centre of the universe – God is. Let us see things from the perspective of God’s Kingdom and His purpose for His Kingdom. For only then can we be one as His family, as He commanded us to be.

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