A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. Proverbs 22:1 NIV
I was privileged to hear a short, stumbling message recently, by an older man, and from a soft heart. He had been a lay preacher most of his adult life, and very involved in his local churches when he lived in New Zealand and Scotland. He has a good family, with much loved children and grandchildren. He had worked in senior positions in industry, and has much he could be proud of, if we consider that in an earthly manner.
The challenge was simple, but profound: “How do you want to be remembered”? In his own faltering way, and between tearful pauses and stumbling words, he gave us the desire of his heart. He didn’t care that he was successful in work, nor even in the corridors of church power. He didn’t want to be remembered for his bad humour, or his way with words in the pulpit. He didn’t even want to be remembered as a man who loved his wife and family, or even that he would go out of his way to do anything for them. No, he wanted his name to be remembered as one who loved the Lord, and the influence that love had on others. Above all else, he wanted his name to be associated with Godly good!
He said something else that will stay with me. “I would rather be forgotten, than remembered for the wrong reasons”. That last quote is worth reading again, and committing to memory.
The little meeting ended, not with the usual buzz of fellowship chatter, but by a hush. Grown men of senior years, who had seen a lot of life and church, taking a deep breath to catch their composure before speaking in hushed and almost reverential tones. Every now and then in church life, we get a collective feel that the Spirit has spoken. It was undeniable, so I leave you with a simple question, which for some lies many years ahead. When you enter the Holy presence of God to gain the undeserved rewards of your faithfulness, and look over your shoulder to earth beneath (if you could) how would you want to be remembered? I think it is worth changing your ways, so that you get the right answer. After all, the only thing we leave our loved ones, is our reputation. Our name! Like you, I know some, both in and out of church life who care, and some who don’t care. Does it matter? Just asking.....
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. Philippians 3:7-9 NIV