God desires that we live our lives in such a way that the preacher won’t have to search for good things to say about us at our funeral. I heard the story of a man named Bill whose brother Will had passed away. Will didn’t attend church so Bill had to find a pastor to preach his brother’s funeral.
The deceased was a well-known swindler, tax-evader, cheat, liar, and even blasphemous. His brother asked the pastor not to mention any of the negative things about his brother, but tell everyone how godly, good, and noble he was and how faithful he was to his family. Bill told the pastor, “If you’ll just say these good things about Will, I’ll give you $100.”
During the funeral, when it came time for the eulogy, the pastor wondered how he could say any good words about a man who was so bad. Then he had an idea.
“As all of you know,” The pastor began, “Will was a gambler, a cheat, a swindler, a liar, who loved to run-around on his wife and cursed God, but I believe he was a saint… compared to his brother Bill!”
We expect people to say nice things about those who have died, but we would all hope that when our funerals are held that the nice things said would be true. What is an even better goal is that the nice things that are said really matter long after we are gone.
It is true that if someone wanted to say negative things about us, they could. None are perfect. Even so, when it is all said and done, wouldn’t it be great to have made a difference in this world for God? Wouldn’t it be satisfying to face death knowing that you have impacted lives for Christ and that your legacy will last generations?
How to Ensure Your Epitaph is Eternal
- Get Real and Get Right – Ultimately it doesn’t matter what people say about us. What really matters is what God says about us. Be honest to God. Don’t fool yourself into believing your own press releases. God knows your heart. Ask Him to reveal it to you. Ask Him to forgive you, cleans you, and make you the person He wants you to be.
- Major on the Minors – Continue to seek God and adjust your life to His plan. Stay in God’s word each day and choose to order your life in a way that is pleasing to Him. Take time to listen as well as talk in prayer. Determine to be faithful in the little things – even when nobody is around.
- Love those God Loves – God so loved the world that He gave His Son. You will never meet someone whom God does not love. Consider others more important than yourself. Ask God to use you to express His love to them.
- Love God with All You’ve Got– Above all, seek to know God more intimately and love Him more deeply each day. Do not allow anything or anyone to distract you from Him.
Through utter dependence upon the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, as well as utter determination to finish well, you can know that your life will make an eternal difference. Either directly or indirectly, God will use you to touch your children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren, as well as your neighbors, friends, and acquaintances.
My goal for an epitaph? Malachi 2:6
“True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness and turned many from sin.”
Yes, it is a lofty goal, but I know it is God’s will. And by God’s grace, it shall be true.
To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy– to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
Jude 24-25 (NIV)