Sermons

How Do Want to Be Remembered?

Sun, Mar 08, 2020
Teacher: Mark Hull
Duration:21 mins 58 secs

Message text

How Do You Want to Be Remembered?

2 Timothy 4: 6 – 8

It was January, 2003, & the Ohio State Buckeyes were playing the #1 ranked Miami Hurricanes for the NCAA National College football championship. The Buckeyes were considered "underdogs" because Miami had a 34-game winning streak - meaning that they had defeated every team they had played in nearly 3 full years!

Just before they left the locker room, Jim Tressel, head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, gathered his team for one final talk. And he closed his pep talk by asking them just one question, “How do you want to be remembered?”

That pep talk must have worked, because when the game was over, the Buckeyes had pulled off one of the greatest upsets in recent memory, defeating Miami, ending their 34-game winning streak, & winning a national championship!

Now let me ask you: “How do you want to be remembered?” What do you hope people will say about you after you are gone? How will people who knew you best summarize your 60 or 70 or 80 years of living?

ILL. Ray Pritchard tells about visiting his brother Andy, who lives in Florence, ALABAMA. While there, Andy wanted to show him an old graveyard out in the county.

They drove along a remote county road & finally stopped near the ruins of a pre-Civil war plantation. Ray says, "We got out & walked into the woods for about a quarter of a mile. There we found the cemetery for the plantation.

"We climbed over a low wall & began inspecting the gravestones, most of them about 150 years old or older. Many of the markers contained phrases like, “Loving father,” “Beloved mother,” “Darling son,” “Rest in Peace,” “Asleep in Jesus,” & so on.

"Eventually we came to the grave of the man who had owned the plantation for many years. Under his name there was the date of his birth & the date of his death. Then there was a five-word statement that summed up his whole life: “A man of unquestioned integrity." Just five words. Nothing more, nothing less.

Suppose it was your tombstone. What words would your friends choose? How do you want to be remembered?

Here is Paul’s answer to that question. Writing from a Roman jail, with the certain knowledge that he would soon be dead, he looked back at his journey with Christ, & then he looked forward to what would happen after he died.

Here is what he wrote: (2 Timothy 4:6-8). “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, & the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

"Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

In order to die well, you have to finish well. Our text tells us how that happens.

ILL. Finishing well doesn’t happen by accident. Most serious marathon runners would recognize the name John “The Penguin” Bingham. He is both a runner & someone who knows how to motivate others to run.

What is his secret? Well, he wrote, “As I stand at the starting line, I know that somewhere out there is a finish line."

"Somewhere out there is a finish line" for all of us. Most of us probably think the finish line is a few years down the road.

All I know is that the finish line of life is “out there” somewhere. And it may come sooner for me than I expect.

But whether sooner or later, it is bound to come because Hebrews 9:27 says, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.”

I have an appointment with death. That’s one appointment I won’t miss & can’t postpone.

As Paul approached his own death, he drew some conclusions about his own life & what would happen next. Based on his words, I would like us to consider three questions.

I.  WHAT KIND OF DEPARTURE WILL YOU HAVE?

The first question is, "What kind of departure will you have?" In our scripture text that I read earlier, Paul looks death in the face & says, "I'm ready." "I am already being poured out like a drink offering."

  1. A drink offering was a type of sacrifice. Both Old Testament Jews & their pagan counterparts were familiar with drink offerings.

A worshiper would approach the altar of hot coals with a goblet of wine. As a prayer or special vow was spoken the wine would be poured on the coals. The wine instantly evaporated giving off a cloud of smoke & a sweet rich fragrance.

The Romans often ended a meal or banquet with such an offering. It marked the time to move on, & pouring out that last goblet symbolized giving all you have to God. That is how Paul viewed his coming death.

It is as if he was saying: "The day is ended; it is time to go; & my life must be poured out as a sacrifice to God." His executioners might think they were taking his life. But Paul viewed his death as an offering he was giving to God.

He knew his death was close at hand. He was on death row in Rome, & he would never be set free.

It was Paul’s way of saying, “Don’t weep for me, Timothy. Know this: When I die, I will die smiling." Paul had already given everything to Jesus. The only thing left to give was his life - & that he was gladly giving.

  1. Paul then wrote "the time has come for my departure." This word “departure” has 4 word pictures behind it.
  2. For example, it was a term sailors used for casting off the lines that tied a ship to the dock, & setting sail.
  3. It was also a military term. When soldiers broke camp & moved on, this was the word that was used to describe the taking down & folding up of their tents.
  4. It was also used in the court system. When a prisoner was set free, this word was the one used to describe that release.
  5. Finally, it was a word used to describe the action involved at the end of the day when a farmer removed the plow & took the heavy yoke off the neck of his ox so that it might enter its shelter & rest.

Was Paul afraid to die? Not at all. He viewed his death as simply being set free & going home to be with his Lord. Now how about you? Do you have that same confidence about your own death?

II.  WHAT KIND OF LEGACY WILL YOU LEAVE?

A 2nd question is: "What kind of legacy will you leave?"

ILL. Jeff Van Wyk wrote: "I visited the home of Elvis Presley in Graceland, TN. After so many years since his death, I was amazed at the crowds of people that still take the tour & listen to his life’s story.

The story will never change, because he has lived his life & what he achieved, whether good or bad, will be told over & over again.

What will your legacy be? What story will be told about your life after you have died? If your answer is "I don't know" you still have the opportunity to change that. It is your decision, & you need to make it now.

  1. In vs. 7, Paul looks at his past & says, in effect, “My life hasn't been easy, but it has been worth it all.”

Then he uses three … word pictures from the athletic world.

  1. The first one is: "I have fought the good fight." Life can be a battle. Think of the words used to describe some of the events in Paul's life - "trouble, distress, tribulation, trials, & hardships."

But now the struggle is almost over. Soon Paul's Commander-in-Chief will grant him an Honorable Discharge from the battles of life. By God’s grace Paul had fought well, & his battle would soon be over.

  1. Next, Paul writes: "I have finished the race." You see, life - the Christian life especially - is a marathon, not a sprint. Winning, in this case, means not giving up. Finishing is victory. It is not about how fast we go or how many we pass along the way, but do we finish well?

Paul could look back & say, “It wasn’t easy, it was often hard, & sometimes I wondered if I would make it, but now I can see that Jesus led me all the way."

  1. Thirdly, Paul declared: "I have kept the faith." This simply means he refused to compromise the truth. When other people fell away, Paul preached the Word. When the world was against him, Paul paid no attention.

When it would have been easy to edit his message to save his own life, Paul proclaimed the whole counsel of God.

He didn't back down, he didn't compromise, & he would not preach what people wanted to hear. He kept the faith!

In our text Paul speaks of the present. He looks death in the face & says, “I’m ready.” He looks back at a lifetime of struggles & knows it was worth it. Finally, he looks at the future & says, “I can’t wait.”

III. WHAT REWARD IS IN STORE FOR YOU?

My final question this morning is: "What reward is in store for you?" In Vs. 8 he wrote: “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

Did you hear that - "The crown of righteousness"? In the ancient Olympic games, a winner received a laurel wreath - not a gold medal. The wreath had little value in & of itself. It’s worth came from the occasion & who presented it.

Paul will receive his crown directly from Jesus, his Savior & Lord.

The glory of Heaven is not that there are gates of pearl & a golden street. It is the presence of the Lord. Jesus said, “I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." (John 14:3)

For one who loves Jesus the presence of God is the ultimate reward.

ILL. In one of his books, A.M. Hunter relates the story of a dying man who asked his Christian doctor to tell him something about the place to which he was going.

As the doctor considered a reply, he heard a scratching at the door, & suddenly he had his answer. "Do you hear that?" he asked his patient. "It’s my dog. I left him downstairs,

but he has grown impatient, & he has come up & hears my voice. He has no notion what is inside this door, but he knows that I am here."

"Now then, isn’t it the same with you? Even though you don’t know or understand everything that’s on the other side, you do know WHO is there. And that makes all the difference.”

Now I'm going to read vs. 8 once again, & I especially want you to notice the last part. “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

”All" is a big word! And there’s room in it for you, & for me, too!

ILL. As a golfer, Paul Azinger was at the top of his game. In 1987 he was named the PGA player of the year. Six years later he won the coveted PGA champion-ship. At the age of 33 he had a remarkable ten tournament victories to his credit. But the very next year Azinger was diagnosed with cancer.

He wrote of his experience: "A feeling of fear came over me. I could die from cancer. Then another reality hit me. I’m going to die anyway, whether from cancer or something else. It’s just a question of when. Golf suddenly became meaningless to me. All I wanted to do was live."

As Azinger faced the possibility of his own death, he remembered something that a minister had said. "Zinger, we’re not in the land of the living going to the land of the dying. We’re in the land of the dying trying to get to the land of the living."

Well, Azinger beat the cancer. He recovered from chemotherapy & returned to the PGA tour, & now at 59 is an honored veteran of the golf world. But the minister’s words impacted his perspective.

Azinger wrote, "I’ve made a lot of money since I’ve been on the tour. I’ve won a lot of tournaments. But that happiness is always temporary.

"The only way I have ever found true contentment is in my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I’m not saying that nothing ever bothers me, & I don’t have problems, but now I’ve found the answer - the answer to the six-foot hole."

So, the word of the Lord today is: Keep on fighting, keep on running, keep on believing, for the best of all is yet to come. It won’t be long, just a little while & the Lord Himself will return, or we'll go to meet Him, & all our struggles will be over.

This battle won’t last forever, this long road will come to an end, & this old world full of “dangers, toils & snares” won’t last much longer. Hold on to your faith. Keep believing & stay strong. Put on the whole armor of God. And never give up. There’s a finish line out there, & it’s closer today than ever before.

INVITATION

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