What epitaph would you like on your grave marker to describe you? Your life? Your influence?
A brief walk in a cemetery will reveal many predictable ones like “Rest in Peace.” “Loving Mother.” Or “Faithful Father.”
Some folks, or at least their relatives have demonstrated a sense of humor with their choice of epitaphs.
Ezekial Aikle, buried in the East Dalhousie Cemetery in Nova Scotia, died at age 102. His Epitaph? “The Good Die Young.”
Playing with names in a Ruidoso, New Mexico, cemetery is this inscription: “Here lies Johnny Yeast. Pardon me for not rising.”
In a Thurmont, Maryland, cemetery is this sober reminder: “Here lies an Atheist All dressed up And no place to go.”
While there are many descriptions of Jesus in the Bible, one of the great ones that summed up his life is found in Acts 10:38. “He went about doing good.”
Our word of the week is “doing.”
Ministry is about doing. Activity. Action. And involvement. Too often programs are developed by churches that serve various needs, but only a few folks are involved. There is work for all of us to do. And the Bible calls for every Christian to get involved in doing what he or she can do.
I’ve heard for years preachers affirm that the first ten verses of Galatians 6 are addressing individual not collective church action. I believe that is correct. Yet, it’s not enough to accurate in exegesis, we must be active in execution.
This text tells us a few things we can do.
1. We can gently and humbly restore an erring brother or sister.
2. We can bear the burdens of those who are hurting, helpless and weak.
3. We can be accountable for our personal responsibilities and duties.
4. We can share our resources with those who are dedicating their lives to preaching the gospel.
5. We can sow good seed that will reap a bountiful spiritual harvest.
6. We can seek opportunities to do good within our church family.
7. We can seize opportunities to help our non-Christian friends, neighbors and relatives. Even strangers.
Of course, no one person can do all of those things all of the time. But based on our gifts, talents, time and opportunities we can find plenty to do.
In all of our doing, we can heed this important divine exhortation.
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal 6:9).
It’s tempting to “lose heart” when our doing is not appreciated, recognized or reciprocated.
We may grow weary when we’re overwhelmed by the amount of work to do. Or the indifference of others. And, of course, by the cares of the world that take precedence over doing God’s work.
Our doing may be diminished because when all is said and done there is more said than done. As the old expression goes, “It’s not enough to talk the talk. We must walk the walk.” The 16th century French statesman Montaigne observed, “Saying is one thing. Doing is another.” And author Jim Rohn admonished, “Don’t let your learning lead to knowledge. Let your learning lead to action.”
Discipleship is about doing. Doing our best. Doing what we can do. Doing what God desires for us do.
John Wesley’s simple advice about doing would serve us all well.
“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, and as long as you can.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman