Read Ephesians 4:29
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (NIV)
An old Welsh proverb said, “If you would have praise, die.” Presumably reflecting the idea that at our funerals people say good things about us. Eulogies are occasions for praise of the deceased, a fond remembering of their best qualities.
The pity of all this is that the one being praised is not around to hear the affirming words. And this raises the question: why not eulogise, speak well of people, when they are alive to hear it and benefit from it? Why leave it till after they have died?
We all need affirmation and encouragement. So much in life drags us down and causes us to doubt ourselves. We need so many positive inputs to balance out the negative ones. We never grow out of the need to hear encouraging words.
And encouragement is not flattery. Flattery arises from twisted motivations: we are trying to say nice things in order to be well regarded or to get a favour in return. And flattery is not based on truth: it exaggerates and romanticises. Flattery is empty, whereas encouragement has substance.
By all means say good things about those who have died, but say those same good things while they are still alive. Eulogies are also for the living.