“Some of the best public speaking we hear is at funerals,” posted my preaching and facebook friend , Warren Berkley, “It is storytelling from the eloquence of the heart. Nobody outlines the structure or critiques the delivery. We just listen.”
After watching most of the funeral service for President George H.W. Bush and hearing the eulogies, I have to say Warren was right.
The stories told by family, friends and colleagues were heartfelt, poignant, and often humorous. They spoke to the character of Mr. Bush. His gentleness. Kindness. Courage. Dignity. Decency. Loyalty. Honor. And grace under pressure.
The accolades given by the various speakers reminded me of a great quote by J. R. Miller, “The only thing that walks back from the tomb with the mourners and refuses to be buried is the character of a man. What a man is survives him. It can never be buried.”
Among the many memorable lines from the Bush service were two that resonated with me. Both were from the touching and often humorous eulogy by former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson.
“Those who travel the high road of humility in Washington are not bothered by heavy traffic.”
“Hatred corrodes the container it is carried in.”
It has been often said that “humility is the mother of all other virtues.” Consider the Biblical virtues identified as the fruit of the spirit–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). First of all, it requires humility to even realize that you are deficient in any of these areas. Secondly, humility is needed to grow, mature and attain these ideals.
Humility helps you to know who you really are. Neither recognition nor rebuke can rattle you. When you’re praised, you don’t allow it to puff you up with pride. And when you experience disapproval you don’t allow it to discourage you. No wonder “God gives grace to the humble” (Jas. 4:6).
Furthermore, how can truly humble people hate? Humble people have no room for hate in their hearts. They’re too busy helping people. Loving. Sharing. Caring. Lifting. And listening.
Those who hate others are often envious of other’s virtues or accomplishments they have not attained. It seems that hate and envy are often seen together. In the case of the Patriarchs and their brother Joseph, the Bible says, “they hated him” and “they envied him” (Gen. 37:4; 37:11). Hate and envy are siamese sins that will sabotage our success, both materially and spiritually, and ultimately destroy us.
Hate erodes, corrodes, and corrupts the one in whom it dwells. Hatred wrecks relationships, ruins marriages, and ravages the soul. It disrupts, damages and destroys everything it touches. Sadly, it has divided many churches.
It’s often easy to lower yourself to hate. It takes effort to humbly take the high road. And Simpson was right. It’s not crowded.
Following the inspired counsel of the apostle Paul will help eliminate hate and elevate humility in our lives. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4).
Remember, as author Rick Warren wrote, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman