• Steve

The Wrong Obituary and the Right Choices

The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish. (Proverbs 10:28)

Alfred Nobel – the inventor of dynamite, arms dealer, and founder of the Nobel Prizes – famously had the opportunity to consider the value of his life. Alfred’s brother Ludvig died in France in 1888 and, through an error in reporting, it was believed Alfred had died.

The next day a scathing obituary appeared in a French newspaper entitled “The Merchant of Death is Dead.” The article decried Alfred’s manufacture of weapons of mass destruction and his war profiteering. Upon reading such an unflattering account of his life, Alfred shifted his focus to humanitarian efforts in his later years. It’s widely believed that the premature obituary influenced him to devote nearly all of his fortune to the Nobel Prizes, awards to those who extended the causes of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace.

If your obituary were written today, what would it say? What would you like it to say? Proverbs says that “the hope of the righteous brings joy” – that is, that those who live for the right things like faithfulness to God, loving their neighbors, working for the good of the community, and so on will have lives full of joy. Even if you have setbacks along the way (and of course you will), there is great happiness in knowing that you are striving to increase love and peace in the world.

Meanwhile, living for the wrong things – materialism, vanity, rivalry with others, and so on – will end in ruin. Even if you achieve those things, they are a lousy legacy! The “expectation of the wicked will perish” either because they do not achieve their goals, or because the goals were not worth achieving. Alfred Nobel came to the sobering realization that for all of his financial and technological success, the title “merchant of death” was a terrible legacy.

The good news in Christianity is that the hope for our future is not something that we must build ourselves, but a gift that has been freely offered by God. When you were spiritually dead in your sins, God loved you and offered you eternal life through Jesus (Ephesians 2:5). Having received this extraordinary and unmerited love of God, we now share that love with others and in the process experience his life ever more deeply.

So, what would you like to build today? What would you like your obituary to say about you decades from now? Today, ask God to help you build a life that will bring you, your community, and your God great joy.

Father, thank you that the future is eternal happiness through Jesus Christ as I trust him. Make my life an offering of love to you and those around me. Fill me with confidence that an honorable life is full of your joy. In Christ’s Name, Amen.