Over the weekend, we were at an away basketball game. While there, the visiting team held their senior night to honor the students that would soon be leaving them. They had each senior write a letter of dedication, thanking those who had encouraged them and giving words of advice to the teammates they were leaving behind. A few days later, a friend and I were discussing this and she made mention of these kids and their “obituaries”. As soon as she said it we both started laughing. Of course, she meant their dedications. It was a funny moment. But it did make me think…of course!
What if someone was going to write my obituary tomorrow? Or perhaps a biography about me? What would it say?
And, look, I am not talking here about curing cancer or breaking a world’s record or even giving gobs of money to a good cause.
No, I am thinking more along the lines of Galatians 5:22-23. The fruits of the Spirit. When I die will people be able to say they saw the fruits of the Spirit in my life?
Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-Control. Nine fruits that are evidences of God’s working in our lives.
Would any of them be mentioned in my biography (should anyone ever write one, which, of course, they won’t)? Do any of these come to mind when someone thinks about me?
It is a sobering thought, at least for me. I can see several on that list that are seriously lacking. Others that aren’t quite so bad, but still need much improvement. And ZERO that are perfect in my life and need no work at all.
This week I read these words about Puritan preacher, Matthew Henry (the guy who wrote the commentary many of us still use). This is what it says in his biography, written by Charles Chapman:
“[Matthew Henry] possessed the desirable disposition and power of looking on the bright side of everything….There was a loveliness in his spirit, and a gladness in his heart, which caused others to feel “how happy a thing it must be to be a Christian.” Though not given to indulgence he enjoyed the blessings of Providence of thankfulness…”
Hmmm…that begs the question: Do I cause others to think “how happy a thing it must be to be a Christian?”
And the thing that makes this so hard is that it isn’t characterized by a one-time deed or outward lifestyle. No, this kind of biography is built brick by torturous brick. Making the choice one moment at a time to deny ourselves and to instead yield our lives to our Savior. The smallest decisions are important, not only because they show the condition of our hearts, but because they are the bricks that build our lives.
You see, most of us won’t have lives characterized by being the President or creating some kind of new technology or even going on to the mission field to minister to cannibals. But we can have lives characterized by the fruits of the Spirit right here, right where we are today. Could there truly be anything that is more important than this if we are a Christian?
What would your biography say about you?