Summary: Now let me ask you: “How do you want to be remembered?” What do you hope people will say about you after you are gone? How will people who knew you best summarize your 60 or 70 or 80 years of living? (Powerpoint available - #363)
MELVIN NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this message are available for free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #363.)
ILL. It was January, 2003, & the Ohio State Buckeyes were playing the #1 ranked Miami Hurricanes for the NCAA National College football championship. The Buckeyes were considered "underdogs" because Miami had a 34-game winning streak - meaning that they had defeated every team they had played in nearly 3 full years!
Just before they left the locker room, Jim Tressel, head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, gathered his team for one final talk. And he closed his pep talk by asking them just one question, “How do you want to be remembered?”
That pep talk must have worked, because when the game was over, the Buckeyes had pulled off one of the greatest upsets in recent memory, defeating Miami, ending their 34-game winning streak, & winning a national championship!
Now let me ask you: “How do you want to be remembered?” What do you hope people will say about you after you are gone? How will people who knew you best summarize your 60 or 70 or 80 years of living?
ILL. Ray Pritchard tells about visiting his brother Andy, who lives in Florence, AL. While there, Andy wanted to show him an old graveyard out in the county.
They drove along a remote county road & finally stopped near the ruins of a pre-Civil war plantation. Ray says, "We got out & walked into the woods for about a quarter of a mile. There we found the cemetery for the plantation.
"We climbed over a low wall & began inspecting the gravestones, most of them about 150 years old or older. Many of the markers contained phrases like, “Loving father,” “Beloved mother,” “Darling son,” “Rest in Peace,” “Asleep in Jesus,” & so on.
"Eventually we came to the grave of the man who had owned the plantation for many years. Under his name there was the date of his birth & the date of his death. Then there was a five-word statement that summed up his whole life: “A man of unquestioned integrity." Just five words. Nothing more, nothing less.
Suppose it was your tombstone. What words would your friends choose? How do you want to be remembered?
Here is Paul’s answer to that question. Writing from a Roman jail, with the certain knowledge that he would soon be dead, he looked back at his journey with Christ, & then he looked forward to what would happen after he died.
Here is what he wrote: (2 Timothy 4:6-8). “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, & the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
"Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
In order to die well, you have to finish well. Our text tells us how that happens.
ILL. Finishing well doesn’t happen by accident. This week I read about a man named John “The Penguin” Bingham. Most serious marathon runners would recognize the name. But since I'm not a runner, I had never heard of him. He is both a runner & someone who knows how to motivate others to run.
What is his secret? Well, he wrote, “As I stand at the starting line, I know that somewhere out there is a finish line."
"Somewhere out there is a finish line" for all of us. Most of us probably think the finish line is a few years down the road. All I know is that the finish line of life is “out there” somewhere. And it may come sooner for me than I expect.
But whether sooner or later, it is bound to come because Hebrews 9:27 (NASB) says, “it is appointed for men to die once” I have an appointment with death. That’s one appointment I won’t miss & can’t postpone.
As Paul approached his own death, he drew some conclusions about his own life & what would happen next. Based on his words, I would like us to consider three questions.
I. WHAT KIND OF DEPARTURE WILL YOU HAVE?
The first question is, "What kind of departure will you have?" In our scripture text that I read earlier, Paul looks death in the face & says, "I'm ready." "I am already being poured out like a drink offering."
A. A drink offering was a type of sacrifice. Both Old Testament Jews & their pagan counterparts were familiar with drink offerings.
A worshiper would approach the altar of hot coals with a goblet of wine. As a prayer or special vow was spoken the wine would be poured on the coals. The wine instantly evaporated giving off a cloud of smoke & a sweet rich fragrance.