Memento mori is Latin for “remember that you have to die.” A memento mori can also be an artwork or decoration that reminds us of human mortality. In the sixteenth century, for example, statues of skeletons or decaying corpses were popular as memento mori. Whether full-size statues or tabletop sculptures, these typically featured a skeleton standing with clothes torn or rotting and some ribs and other bones visible. Their purpose was to remind people not to be attached to material or temporal things.
While such objects might seem strange to us today, knowledge of human mortality can help us keep in mind life’s transience and live in light of eternity. As we saw yesterday, those in Hebrews 11 who walked by faith and trusted God’s promises understood this truth. Now that “the grace of God has appeared,” this mystery has been revealed (v. 11). We understand that the promise of a heavenly city has always been about Christ, the incarnate Son of God, who sacrificed Himself in our place to make us His own (v. 14).
Because this part of God’s plan lies in our past, we can strive for no less than to “live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (v. 12). God’s gift of salvation is not just a ticket to heaven. It is a gift that begins to transform our lives immediately. Ungodliness should be rejected, for it contradicts salvation’s purpose and our identity as God’s people. His grace provides the power to live righteously.
In our future is the culmination of God’s plan, the return of Christ (v. 13). To wait for this “blessed hope” is to live in light of eternity. According to Paul, this is the simple but all-important core of what Titus should teach the young church in Crete (v. 15).
Are we indeed “eager to do what is good” (v. 14)? If so, we should be glad to know we’re “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10). What might be a good work that He’s prepared for you today? If you’re not sure, pray and ask the Spirit to bring at least one such action to mind.