At a funeral service several years ago I was moved by an especially poignant and fitting eulogy given for a man who had faithfully served his family and country for many years. If someone were to give a eulogy for you or me at our funerals, what would they say? Just what kind of legacy are we developing? Is our reputation one of deep, abiding character? Are we exemplifying honesty, integrity and excellence in the way we live?
Years ago my father told my seven brothers and sisters and me that our family name ought to stand for something of value and worth. He said that each of us had the duty to represent our family favorably by conducting ourselves properly in public and in private. He explained that since our name should personify character, we shouldn't do anything that would blemish or tarnish it.
The following poem by an anonymous author expresses what my father told us:
You got it from your father,
It was all he had to give.
So it's yours to use and cherish,
For as long as you may live.
If you lose the watch he gave you,
It can always be replaced.
But a black mark on your name, son,
Can never be erased.
It was clean the day you took it,
And a worthy name to bear,
When he got it from his father,
There was no dishonor there.
So make sure you guard it wisely,
After all is said and done.
You'll be glad the name is spotless,
When you give it to your son.
Our family names should be a source of proper pride and honor. Proverbs 22:1 (New International Version) says, "A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold." Our reputation is priceless and needs constant care and protection. We should always strive to be honest, dependable and honorable. We should endeavor to maintain high moral standards and build a legacy of trust and integrity.
Besides representing our earthly father's name appropriately, we also have a responsibility to faithfully uphold and glorify our Eternal Father's name (Psalm 86:9, 12). He feels strongly about His reputation. "‘For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations,’ says the Lord of hosts" (Malachi 1:11).
Additionally, as followers of Jesus Christ, we have the duty to respect and uphold His name in the same manner in which His Heavenly Father honored Him. "Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth" (Philippians 2:9-10).
How should we conduct ourselves so we can one day enter the Kingdom of God? We not only need to carefully uphold our own family name but God’s family name as well. "Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman." (Psalm 15:1-3, New International Version).
If someone were to give a eulogy for you or for me at our funerals, what would they say? Does our name represent character, honor and integrity? Just what kind of reputation are we building?