Summary: Build your life on Jesus Christ and you will never be disappointed, and those who know you will be sorry to see you go.

How Will You Be Remembered?

II Timothy 2:1-13

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 40 or 60 or 80 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?

The Elvis Presley Bicycle Race

His name was Spencer Louis Schreiter. I never knew him but my brother Alan did. Spencer was a 59-year-old hematologist in Tupelo, Mississippi. A few months ago he had a physical and they gave him a clean bill of health. I think I would have liked him because he was an avid bike rider. He died two weeks ago yesterday while riding in the Elvis Presley Bicycle Race in Tupelo. It was a surprise because he had seemed to be the picture of health. Alan talked with a police officer who saw it happen. Spencer was riding along just fine, then he slumped over and was gone. Just like that. He was born in Normal, Illinois, moved to Jackson, Mississippi, played basketball at Ole Miss, served in the Air Force, became a hematologist, joined Covenant Life PCA church where, along with his wife, he taught senior high youth. Those senior high students were the honorary pallbearers at his funeral. Spencer’s death shook Alan up because they worked together in the same hospital. Spencer was a bikeaholic. “He died doing what he wanted to do.” Alan repeated that over the phone several times. When Alan told me the story, he was sitting in his cabin alone. Spencer’s death made him think hard. “If I died right now, how would I want to be found? What do I want to be doing? If I had to die, what point of integrity and character would I want to have?” Then he talked some more and mused over his own life: “I could die out here. If they found me, what would they say about me? How would I be remembered? I don’t want to be remembered that there were a lot of bad things going on in my life.” Alan was working out with some other doctors and they were talking about Spencer’s death. Everyone had an opinion but the room got quiet when my brother said, “God called him home. God will call you home when the time comes.” Then my brother wrapped it up by saying “When it comes to integrity and character, I want something to stand for.”

How will you be remembered? For the Apostle Paul, that was no idle question. When he wrote II 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 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.

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.

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