What will be said about you when this life is over?
Great question and worthy of evaluation. After all, for believers, we are really citizens of heaven just passing through on our way to an audience with the King of kings. What lingers behind us is the aroma of our testimony through our character and the influence we’ve had on others.
The other day an editor friend of mine, Gary Ledbetter, wrote a short column about what people talk about at a person’s funeral (Southern Baptist Texan, December, 2016). He pointed out that people really don’t talk about your ideology (what you say you believe) as much as they talk about what they remember about how you impacted their life.
He noticed several positive trends that people talk about at a funeral:
1. Family members talk about your marriage – They marvel at expressions of intimacy that they see demonstrated in your life. It is not uncommon to find generations of family and friends speaking about your faithfulness and service to your spouse. Ledbetter observed, “People who watched us while they are learning to walk still watch us.”
2. Kids and grandkids talk about your priestliness – The memories about a passing saint’s demonstrative faith are precious to a family. For example, the mom who called on the Lord for the salvation of her kids or the dad who expressed sincere love of the Lord through his words of blessing form powerful images in the hearts of those who remain behind.
3. Family talks about your spiritual disciplines – Family watches up close like no one else. They know about your time alone with the Lord. They know about your guarded tongue. They know about your tithing and sacrificial giving. Ledbetter told about a dad who knew he was going to die within a short amount of time and he continued to memorize Scripture. Some would call his practice foolish. He would call it loving what the Father loves.
4. Your pastor will talk about your faithfulness to your church – Godly men and women serving the Lord and others through their local church with their witness, prayer, giving and going are beautiful images for the pastor to talk about at a memorial service.
So, what kind of words will be said about us? “Loving spouses, devoted parents and true disciples already have a legacy, even if we do not do a thing about it,” writes Ledbetter. “What will those who remain say—what will be true about us when this life is over?”
What matters “is about the stewardship of our days and our people. The testimony of and about those who have gone before us is that faithfully loving God and loving people is the way we impact those who know you and love you the best.”
As I read my friend’s comments, the Holy Spirit caused me to do inventory of my own practices. Once a saint has gone home to be with the Lord, what kind of aroma surrounds the family and friends? Will it be the fragrance of peace and love, generosity and hospitality, faithfulness and service, stewardship and discipline? These are personal questions that only the individual saint can measure before the Lord.
One way we can leave a testimony of faith for generations is through estate planning. Every believing family in every Baptist church needs a plan for the end of our journey. Will we allow the government to distribute our assets? That is what happens when a person dies without a will. Or have we taken the initiative to develop a will, a written plan that cares for our family, our local church and great ministries?
One of the valuable resources for introducing your church or Sunday School class to making end-of-earthly-life plans is our Missouri Baptist Foundation. Call them today in Jefferson City: 573.761.0717 or toll-free: 800.776.0746 and schedule an appointment for making a plan. You may also email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.