Honor Such Men

July 8, 2008

Yesterday Aaron posted about the death of Greg Gomez of the REAPSouth Team in South Peru.  Greg was a summer missionary who died of injuries sustained in a public transportation accident.  Here are our initial reactions to this news:

  • How awful!
  • He was such a young man, who had his whole life ahead of him!
  • I feel so sorry for his parents and teammates and friends!
  • God, give grace to deal with this tragedy!        

These reactions are true.  These reactions are good.  These reactions are lacking. 

One more reaction should trail along in the tear-filled wake of grief: thanksgiving — thanksgiving not for what appears to us to be an untimely death, but thanksgiving for a life spent in service to the gospel.  Greg died while working to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the unreached peoples of South Peru.  What a glorious way to finish the race, even if one’s race turns out to be much shorter than expected.

The apostle Paul instructed the Philippian church about Epaphroditus: “Honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life…” (Phil 2:29-30).  Honor is due to those who risk their lives for the work of Christ, even if they don’t die in the process.  How much more ought we honor those whose risk ends in death? 

I’m saddened by Greg’s death, but I don’t want to feel pity for what might have been.  Instead, I want to honor a young man like him.  I want to honor Greg with my thanksgiving to God for his service to Christ.  I’m confident that, having now seen his Savior face-to-face, Greg has no regrets about having put himself at risk for the gospel.  May my own end be as worthy of honor.

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