- Death & Loss of Life
The Most Important Thing In Life
I attended a funeral yesterday. My mother's oldest sister's husband passed on at age 78. They had been married for sixty-one years. That is a feat very few in this generation will know. My aunt asked me to be a pallbearer. As usual, I agreed. To be asked to do that, I believe, is one of the highest honors in life. It not only reflects how the surviving family members thinks of you, but it is also a chance to honor someone that has been a part of your life. In this case, my aunt and uncle had been married longer than my mother has been alive! My mother is the youngest, so I have never known a family function without my uncle being there.
When I arrived at the funeral home, I saw two of my older cousins who were also pallbearers. We are very close in age, and spent a lot of time together growing up. What struck me in all of the proceedings yesterday is how little I really know them. It also struck me how little I knew my uncle. I think as we are growing up, we take for granted that those people will always be around. As far as that goes, we take our friends, children, and spouses for granted also. What I took away from yesterday was that in a lot of cases, I have neglected the most important thing in life: other people. That is kind of harsh because I am a minister, and I have truly tried to live my life in pursuit of helping others. Sometimes, I can get so driven that I forget that the most basic element of helping people is to simply spend time with them. Sometimes, I simply get distracted with life.
We left the funeral home, and proceeded to the cemetery. The ministers said a few words. It was a typical Southern graveside service. Before the closing prayer, however, my aunt did something that I had never seen done at a graveside service. She asked to say a few words. She went on to honor her husband by saying how kind and giving he was to all. After that, several other family members commented about him. My aunt ended the comments with honoring the whole family, saying how they always stuck by each other. I thought to myself that this was the most important thing in life....honoring others. We have lost that in society today! We are so consumed with material pursuits and getting ours that we forget we share life with other people. What if we lived life as though others were more important than ourselves? What if we lived life in pursuit of honoring others?
All of that brought me to a thought that I have had for years, and have actually preached on. This thought is in the form of a question. At the end of my life, what would people say about me? As they come by my casket, what would they remember? Have I honored people to the degree that they would honor me in death? I know what I would want people to say. There are two things: I would want them to say he loved Jesus with all his heart, and he loved me. The most important thing in life is loving people and letting them know you love them. Spend time with people, because when it is all said and done, our time is really all we have to offer. It can never be exchanged for anything else.
Make a list of people you would like to honor. Then honor them. Spend time with them. Get to know them. Ask questions about their life, without being nosy or intrusive, of course. Find out their likes and interests. Let them know what they mean to you. If you are not comfortable telling them, show them in other ways. I think telling them is best, but it is not set in stone. What if they don't honor me? What if I am kind to someone in the grocery store and they respond negatively? Well, the highest honor to give is when it is not returned, Then it is done with pure motive. When you have nothing to gain by honoring someone, then you have truly honored them at the highest level. I will say this though...you reap what you sow. You just might not reap it with every person.
Let's face it.....the most important thing in life is loving and honoring other people above ourselves. What a life we could create through that simple principle. Where should we start? We should start with those closest to us....our spouses, our children, our co-workers. Just start and let it snowball. You will not be disappointed.