"Mommy, my turtle is dead," the little boy, Freddie, sorrowfully told his mother, holding the turtle out to her.
The mother kissed him on the head, then said, "That's all right. We'll wrap him in tissue paper, put him in a little box, then have a nice burial ceremony in the back yard. After that, we'll go out for an ice cream soda, and then get you a new pet. I don't want you...." Her voice trailed off as she noticed the turtle move.
"Freddie, your turtle is not dead after all."
"Oh," the disappointed boy said. "Can I kill it?"
Using the mind of a child, it's easy to see why Freddie felt that way. In his immature mind, the "blessing" of an ice cream soda more than made up for any loss suffered through the death of a pet.
There is a sense, though, in which the benefits of death far outweigh any sadness we might feel. The apostle Paul frequently wrote of the need to "put to death" the sinful behavior that once characterized our lives. We're well aware of what he's talking about because we constantly struggle with temptation. Just when we think we've given our sins the death blow, they resurface with new life. Putting them to death is not an easy thing to do. It helps to be reminded of the benefits of doing so:
"For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." (Rom. 8:13)
The thought of "living" with God far outweighs any sadness I might experience from putting to death those "deeds of the body."
Father, as I look at my sinful behavior which resurfaces from time to time only to hurt and disappoint you so much -- that behavior which you hate even more than I do, enough to sacrifice your only Son -- I have only one question: Can I kill it?