What Will You Leave Behind?

by David Padfield

During every funeral, I remind the audience that funeral sermons are for the living, not the dead. Words spoken in the hour of death can encourage the living to remain faithful to the Lord. After the first martyr gave his life for the Lord, Luke tells us that "devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him" (Acts 8:2).

Acts 9:36 tells us of Dorcas, a woman "full of good works and charitable deeds." While at Joppa, she grew sick and died. The disciples washed her and placed her in an upper room. When Peter entered the room "all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them" (Acts 9:39). This godly woman was remembered what she left behind. Revelation 14:13 says our works will follow us. When you die, what will you leave behind?

"We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out" (1 Tim. 6:7). Why do so many people get all wrapped up with "possessions"? Jesus asked, "What is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt. 16:26).

What would you gain if you had the whole world? Whatever it is, it will not endure after the Judgment is passed (2 Peter 3:10).

What would you give in exchange for your soul? Whatever it may be, this is one transaction you will eternally regret. Judas sold his soul for 30 pieces of silver (Matt. 26:14-16) -- some Christians will sell out for far less. Some will sell their soul for a few more minutes sleep on Sunday morning, or another hour of TV on Sunday night. Gospel preachers have been known to exchange their hope of eternal glory for the praise of men (2 Tim. 4:3).

When you die, all that your spouse will have left of you are memories and pictures. Don't wait till your spouse dies to express your love. Flowers at the graveside might make you feel better, but your spouse could only have enjoyed them in life.

Among the many laws in the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy 24:5 is one of the most quaint. It says, "When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife, whom he has taken." God intended for the home to be pleasant for both parties.

The Psalmist tells us our "children are a heritage from the Lord" (Psa. 127:3). How are you treating your "gift" from God?

You probably purchased life insurance so your spouse can meet the financial needs of your children in the event of your death -- this is to be commended. In 1986 Christa McAuliffe died aboard the space shuttle Challenger. Some of her friends had purchased a $1 million life insurance policy for her children. But that money could not dry a single tear from her children's eyes.

I am saddened by parents who get all wrapped up in material things so they can give their children "the best of everything." My sons often drag me outside to play baseball (I hate baseball), but, I know they would rather spend 30 minutes with me than have a new bicycle.

What will your friends think when they read your obituary? Will they be surprised to find out you were a Christian? Will the reputation of the Lord's church be harmed? Your death will affect them, for "none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself" (Rom. 14:7).

Funeral sermon, committal service, graveside service