Sometimes when visiting a cemetery, I like to look for old grave markers and read the epitaphs. Many are predictable. Like “Rest in Peace.” “Loving Mother.” Or “Faithful Father.”
However, some people, or at least their relatives, exhibited a sense of humor with their choice of epitaphs. Here are some supposedly actual inscriptions on tombstones.
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.”
In a London cemetery is a Lawyer’s epitaph: “Sir John Strange Here lies an honest lawyer, And that is Strange.”
And then seen in a Georgia cemetery are these words: “I told you I was sick”
What epitaph would you choose to sum up your life?
While there are many descriptions of Jesus in the Bible, one of the great epitaphs is found in Acts 10:38: “He went about doing good.”
In His Mountain message, Jesus’ exhortation to His disciples was to “do good” (Matt 5:44). To be worthy of this epitaph, consider these important components of doing good.
(1) Be opportunity oriented. Doing good requires the opportunity to do good. However, opportunities are not always obvious, especially if we are self-absorbed. We must be focused on doing good in order to take advantage of opportunities. Three things will help us make the most of our opportunities.
◆Seek opportunities to do good. Jesus said, “seek and you shall find.” What are we seeking? Some seek ease. Wealth. Prestige. Or acceptance. We attract what we think about. What we are looking for? What we are trying to obtain? Are you seeking opportunities to do good?
◆See opportunities to do good. J Oswald Sanders put it this way, “Eyes that look are common, eyes that see are rare.” If we are to be successful spiritually, we need to open our eyes. Really see. Visualize the opportunities around us to do good. What opportunities do you see?
◆Seize opportunities to do good. It’s not enough to seek opportunity or even to see it, we must seize it. Jonathan Winters said, “I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it” How often have we had an opportunity just slip through our fingers? Knowing and realizing are not enough. We are called upon to act. To follow through. To do something.
(2) Do good in your Church Family. Paul commanded Christians to “do good “especially to those who belong to the Family of Believers” (Gal. 6:10) Christians belong to the same spiritual family. We share the same fellowship. Have the same Father. And serve the same Lord. Christians care about one another. Feel one another’s pain. And freely share their blessings to help a brother in need.
(3) Do good to all people. The second great commandment is “to love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:39). Christians are to be the light of the world, and the salt of the earth (Matt 5:13-16). One way to shine our light and be a preserving influence in the world is by getting involved in our communities. There are many ways. Contributions to worthy charities. Volunteering to help non-profit organizations. Participating through service clubs like Rotary. And individually helping others as we see their need.
The challenge of this life-changing epitaph can be summed up in the words of John Wesley: “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. As long as ever you can.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman