Vol. 3, No. 7
If the Lord delays his coming, none of us will get out of this world alive. We have an appointment with death (Hebrews 9:27), when we hope to meet our angelic guide to Abraham's bosom (Luke 16:22). Tear-dimmed eyes will last view our casket, and lonely mourners will follow the trail of tears to the silent city of the dead where our bodies will wait for the resurrection morn (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).
All desire to leave something worthwhile behind. We want our families left financially secure and to be remembered for making some contribution to society. From Methuselah, who, though he lived the longest, accomplished the least (Genesis 5:26-27), we learn that it is not the length of our lives that counts, but what we do with them. Jesus, though he lived only 33 years, made the most of them. So should we.
A Record Of Good Deeds: When they visit the funeral home, will our friends reminiscence about the good that we have done, like Dorcas' friends did (Acts 9:36, 39)? Will the preacher's eulogy be long and full? Hopefully, they can remember our kindness to widows and orphans (James 1:27), the food we gave the hungry (Matthew 25:35), the clothes given to those cold, visits to the sick (Matthew 25:36), flowers to the bereaved (John 11:19), comfort for the hurting (Philemon 7) and encouragement we gave the downtrodden (Acts 9:27). When the Herods died, they must have cheered (Matthew 2:16; Acts 12:1). They were not remembered for their good deeds. But we wonder what was said at Barnabas' funeral. He left a trail of good deeds (Acts 4:36-37; 11:22-30; 13:2; 15:22-31). Let's do the same.
A Good Name: When we pass, will they say, "He was a good man" or "She was a fine Christian?" "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches…" (Proverbs 22:1). We must be honest in our dealing (cf., Acts 5:1-2), fair with others (Romans 12:17), above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2, 7), and morally pure (Galatians 5:19-21). Joseph was a man who kept a good name, even under trying circumstances (Genesis 39:1-10). He was fondly remembered (Genesis 50:25-26; Exodus 13:19).
A Faithful Family: We will leave mourning family behind on that sad day, but will we leave a faithful one? Will each be on his way to heaven? We are not able to make decisions for them, but we will have a great influence on each, especially our children (Proverbs 22:6). Sarah left a godly man to mourn (Genesis 23:2); Abraham left faithful sons behind (Genesis 18:19; 25:8). Zebedee and Salome gave the world James and John; Lois taught Eunice who molded Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15). If we would be such a family, we must start now, because the years may come when they will not listen (Ecclesiastes 12:1). No greater legacy can be left than our faith in God and faithfulness to his church.
A Strong Church: Will our congregation have an empty seat, two less busy hands, two fewer listening ears, a silenced tongue and two fewer bowed knees when we are gone? Will they be able to say "He really built up this church" or "She is irreplaceable because of her tireless work." Think what must have been said at Peter's funeral, when he laid down his battle-scarred armor, after service as an apostle and elder (Matthew 10:2; 1 Peter 5:1). What of Aquilla and Priscilla, who were always assets to the church (Acts 18:26)? Did the Colossian church miss Philemon, Apphia and Archiphus (Philemon 2; Colossians 4:17)? Some of God's greatest New Testament servants were "just church members" who lived faithfully till death (Revelation 2:10). May they be able to say that at our funerals.
Saved Souls: When Paul went home, the devil must have sighed with relief. He was a soul-saving man. Of all who have followed the Savior, what man was more tireless in reaching the lost than the peerless Paul (Romans 9:1-3; 10:1-3; 1 Corinthians 9:20-21; 2 Corinthians 11:23-33)? His grave was probably surrounded by his spiritual children (1 Timothy 1:2), and heaven will be more populated because of him (Acts 16:15, 33; 18:8). May there be people at our gravesides who can say, "I am a Christian because of him/her." Won't it we wonderful to meet one in heaven who says, "I am here because of you."
As that day draws near, may we be able to quote Paul: "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Let us strive to have a legacy worth leaving!