Use your time to invest in one another and remember the good things that have been taught.
As I have aged I am reminded that our time here on earth is limited. Quite a few of my high school classmates have died. Still more folks I have met, while walking the path God has cut for me, have died as well. Then there are those who have died that are related to friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, who have died. Still more are those related to me – my dad, my grandmother, my first daughter – have died. Each death and how it is handled is different. There are different ways to have a funeral, a viewing, and the like. But each person is surely dead. But there is one thing that is pretty common to every death, viewing and funeral. That my friends, is the eulogy.
The word Euology, according to Meriam-Webster.com, means 1) a commendatory oration or writing especially in honor of one deceased; 2) high praise. It comes from the Greek word eulogia which means to praise. If you have been to a funeral you surely have heard high praise about someone by those who knew that person.
When these eulogies are said, they are very encouraging to hear. They typically point out the very best of the recently deceased. They are always laudatory. I have never heard a eulogy that began “He was a real jerk and doofus! I’m glad he is dead. The world is a better place without him alive!” Somehow I don’t think someone saying that would be very welcome. I also don’t think those statements would go over very well with those attending the funeral. Even if the deceased was a jerk and a doofus. Even if the deceased did more for humanity by dying than when he was living, those words should never be uttered.
Why is that?
Well first, the eulogy, by definition, is a praise of the person who died. It is meant to remember the good that was done, the positive aspects of a person’s life not the shortcomings. Second, and probably more importantly, since funerals are for the livg and not the dead, the eulogy can be an encouragement to those who were related to or friends of the deceased. That is a very important aspect: we should encourage those who loved the person who just died. We should look for the good that person did and remember the positive aspects of the life that was lived. But why do we wait until someone dies to do this?
“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NASB)
In the passage that precedes this verse Paul has been encouraging the believers at Thessalonica that they have not missed the Day of the Lord and their dead relatives won’t miss it, should it come soon. Paul is saying “encourage each other…build up one another…you’re doing fine, you haven’t missed anything. Be of good spirit. Keep doing what is right.” Paul is basically saying to use their time to invest in one another and remember the good things they have been taught.
“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13
In the Letter to the Hebrews, the author is encouraging these Jewish believers to continue on to maturity. He is also encouraging them not to turn back to the Law for their righteousness since they have already be declared righteous by God because of Christ’s sacrificial work on the cross. The author uses the same word here for encourage that Paul used in 1 Thessalonians: parakaleite. This word basically means “to come alongside and help. Hmm, I’m starting to see a pattern here.
Whether we are pressing onto maturity, looking for the return of Christ, living with the loss of loved ones or simply living through the trials of life, our duty – yes DUTY – is to encourage one another. While we are alive.
I can tell ya from experience that encouraging words are far too few and far too distant these days. When I was a Pastor, the negative comments far outweighed the encouraging words. Even as a former Pastor, the negative far outweighs the positive. Why is this so? Why do we tear each other down during life, then praise each other when one dies? That seems hypocritical to me.
Surely the reason can’t be that folks around us do nothing good! If they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, they will do something good. If they are exercising their spiritual gift, they are doing something good. Why not encourage them and their family NOW regarding what they are doing? I’m not saying spew out meaningless platitudes and empty words of praise. I do mean that we should seek out ways to encourage one another EACH DAY.
I know, life is complicated and time is at a premium. We all have commitments that seem to urgently require our attention all the time. We have work, family, and church with all it’s busy-ness. Busy, busy, busy! Why should I (or you) make time to say a few kind words to a brother or sister in Christ? Why should I (or you) seek out ways to encourage another Christian? Do we really need to make time – time we don’t really have – to encourage others?
Yes. Yes. Yes. We should look for ways to encourage each other, after all the world knows enough ways to DIScourage us! So take a little time this week and find someone – anyone – who needs some encouragement. Give them a little praise. Say something nice about them now instead of waiting for them to be dead.
GIve them a eulogy while they still live. And help someone face their day with all its problems being a little encouraged.