In my devotional time this morning, I ran across this verse: “Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. He passed away, to no one’s regret, and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.” (2 Chronicles 21:20)
Jehoram was one of the kings of Judah. His grandfather Asa and his father Jehoshaphat were not perfect kings, but they were faithful to the Lord and had been blessed. One of Jehoshaphat’s biggest mistakes was to marry his son to Athaliah, a daughter of Israel’s wicked King Ahab. Jehoram began his reign with blood. Once declared king he massacred his brothers and anyone who might lay claim to the throne. He then began erecting places to worship false gods including a temple to Baal that may even have been built in Jerusalem itself. When he finally died, no one really mourned his passing.
I doubt that anyone reading this will have a life as damaging and damning as Jehoram’s, but we need to ask an honest question as we stare in the bathroom mirror: When I pass from this earth, will people regret that I am gone?
As I met with a group of men in a Bible study earlier this year, I challenged them to consider what they would like to have said at their funerals. Each day you live, you are writing your eulogy. What people will say of you will be tied to what they know of you. Will they say that your life mattered? Will they say you were kind and caring or surly and mean-spirited? Will they say that you were generous or that you were self-absorbed? Will they say that you were an encourager or that you were hyper-critical? Will they say that your life honored Christ or will they shake their heads and wonder what might have been?
Most of you have heard the apocryphal story of the pastor who was preaching the funeral of a man who had recently died. He went on and on about how good and generous the man was, how he was a good husband and a good father, and that he was faithful to the Lord. At the end of the service the wife went up to the front and asked for the casket to be opened. When the funeral director asked why she wanted that, her reply was, “After hearing all those things the pastor said, I just want to make sure this is MY husband.”
We find humor in that because it hits fairly close to home. Many of us have been to funerals and heard eulogies about a person that didn’t seem to match the life that the dearly departed had lived. As I told that group of men, “Don’t make me have to lie about you when you’re gone.”
I was asked to perform a funeral service in Savannah for a man I didn’t know. The family was from out of town, but wanted to bury their father in the family plot. I agreed to help them out since they didn’t have many other options. I met with the son at the funeral home the day before to get some personal information for the message I would preach. I asked, “Tell me some of the good things about your father.” The man didn’t hesitate in his response and spoke with regret, “I can’t tell you one good thing about my father.” I’ve never forgotten those words. Perhaps that one event made the verse about Jehoram jump out at me today.
Remember that you are forming your legacy as you live each day. Make this day matter. Be an encourager. Be generous. Take time to speak to a child or open the door for an elderly person. Call a relative to catch up. Visit someone who is sick. Be faithful to Jesus and His church. Think about what you want said about you when you’re gone and live in such a way that the pastor doesn’t have to lie to make you look good! Be the person who when gone from this earth is dearly missed.