Here’s a question for you … how will you be remembered? It’s a simple question that defies a simple answer. After you are dead and gone, after you’ve lived your 60,80 or 90 years, when your time on earth has come to an end, when you are here no more, how will you be remembered? What will you leave behind as the legacy of your life? When they talk about you, if they talk about you at all, what will they say?
Let me sharpen the question just a bit. What will the people who knew you best say about you when you’re gone? We all know that casual acquaintances can say what they want, and it doesn’t really matter because they never really knew us. But you can’t fool your children or your spouse or parents or your closest friends. They know the truth because they’ve lived with you so long and seen you in so many different circumstances. What will they say about you as they walk back to their cars while your casket is being lowered into the ground? How will you be remembered? There’s a funny saying that goes like this …”When you were born, everyone else was smiling and you were crying. Live so that when you die, everyone else is crying and you are smiling.” I think it makes a lot of sense!
How will you be remembered? For the Apostle Paul in the New Testament,that was no idle question. When he wrote the epistle of Timothy, he was in prison, in chains, in Rome,under a sentence of imminent death. His days were numbered, and the numbers were quickly running out. He didn’t have five years left and he probably didn’t have five months to get his act together. The grains of sand had nearly all slipped from the hourglass. Death by beheading was not far away… Paul may be chained, but you can’t chain the gospel. Paul says, “It doesn’t matter what happens to me. Whether I live or die is no big deal. The only thing I want is to see the lost saved. If my going to jail will help others find salvation, then I would rather be in jail than be free.” Paul knew he would never get out of prison alive. That’s why he said, “I have finished my course.” For him the race of life was almost over. Only one thing was left to do: Send a message to his young protégé, Timothy,and give him a final word of encouragement. Then he could face his death with grace and courage. You can read chapter 2 of 2 Timothy especially .. By the way, how is Paul remembered today? He was put to death by that sadistic madman, Nero, the exalted emperor of the Roman Empire. Nero was the most powerful man in the world. Who was Paul, really? Just some Jewish preacher who claimed to be a follower of Jesus. A nuisance and a troublemaker, but he was nothing in comparison to mighty Nero. Soon the emperor would order him put to death. But that was not the end of the story. Two thousand years have passed, what does the world say now about Nero and Paul? Men name their dogs Nero and their sons Paul.
Two Pieces of Advice
Here was Paul’s advice to young Timothy: “Timothy, my child, Christ Jesus is kind, and you must let Him make you strong. You have often heard me teach. Now I want you to tell these same things to followers who can be trusted to tell others” (2 Timothy 2:1-2) The poet Samuel Johnson once famously remarked that, “When a man knows he will be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates the mind wonderfully.” If you know you’re about to die, you don’t waste time and you don’t waste words. You get right to the point. Paul gives Timothy two pieces of advice:
1) Be Strong.
2) Pass it Along.
This is what we must do. This is our calling, our challenge, our mission from God. Be strong in the Lord. Stand strong in the grace of Jesus Christ. When times are tough, be strong. When you feel like giving up, be strong. To be strong speaks of moral courage in the face of unrelenting opposition. To be strong in grace means that you don’t rely on yourself when times are tough, you rely on the Lord alone. Jesus didn’t say, “Follow me and life will be easy.” He said, “Follow me, and life will be tough, but it will be worth it in the end.” Over 60 years ago God called John Sergey to bring the gospel to the Russian people. John was burdened to preach the gospel in Russia.
Back then, it seemed so hopeless, almost impossible. The iron grip of Communism held millions in spiritual captivity. Atheism was the official ideology of the Communist Party. During the days of Stalin, millions of people died, and Christians were severely persecuted. Pastors were thrown in jail and often killed. If you were a pastor, you knew at any moment you might be arrested. Pastors disappeared and did not return from jail for years, if they returned at all. But through the long years of darkness, John Sergey kept working to bring the gospel to Russia. He never lost faith that one day the doors would open, and Communism would be relegated to the trash heap of history. He made some people angry by telling them that one day things would be different in Russia. As it turned out, he was right. Thirty-five years ago, he started preaching to the Russian people by means of Trans World Radio. Week after week through short-wave radio, his messages reached believers and unbelievers. And John Sergey became known all over Russia. And long before it was popular, he would travel to Russia to preach. He preached in Moscow and St. Petersburg (back then it was called Leningrad), in big towns and small villages. Everywhere he went, people knew him from his radio ministry. That’s how he is remembered today.
So I come back to the basic question. How will you be remembered? What will people say about you after you are gone?
What kind of man are you? What kind of man do you want to be?
What kind of Christian are you? What kind of Christian do you want to be?
What kind of husband? What kind of wife? What kind of father? What kind of mother?
How will you be remembered? What legacy will you leave behind? Build your life on
Jesus Christ and you will never be disappointed, and those who know you will be sorry to see you go.