What Kind of Name Are You Making for Yourself?
HAVE you ever read an obituary column in your local newspaper or seen a lengthy report on a deceased person’s life and accomplishments? Did you ask yourself, ‘What would people be saying about me?’ How many ever think about how they will be remembered after their death? Thus, the frank questions: What would people be saying about you today if you had died yesterday? What kind of reputation are you making for yourself? How would you like to be remembered by those who have known you and by God?
The wise writer of the Bible book of Ecclesiastes said: “A name is better than good oil, and the day of death than the day of one’s being born.” (Ecclesiastes 7:1) Why would the day of one’s death be better than the day of one’s birth? Because at birth a person has no established reputation. His personal slate is totally blank. His life course will result in either a positive or a negative reputation. For those who have established a good name over the years, the day of death is indeed better in that respect than the day of birth.
So we have a choice. In fact, daily we have many choices that will determine our reputation on the day of our demise, especially how we will be remembered by God. Thus, the same wise Hebrew wrote: “The remembrance of the righteous one is due for a blessing, but the very name of the wicked ones will rot.” (Proverbs 10:7) To be remembered by God for a blessing—what a privilege!
If we are wise, our aim will be to please God by living in harmony with his standards. That means following the basic principles that Christ expressed: “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. The second, like it, is this, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments the whole Law hangs, and the Prophets.”—Matthew 22:37-40.
Some are remembered as philanthropists, humanitarians, advocates of civil rights, or for their accomplishments in business, science, medicine, or other activities. How, though, would you like to be remembered?
The Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-96) expressed the wish that some power would give us the gift to see ourselves as others see us. Can you look at yourself objectively and say that you have a fine reputation with other people and with God? In the long run, our relationships with others are surely more significant than any short-term achievements we may have in the world of sports or business. Therefore the question is: How do our dealings with others—our conversation, our manner, our body language—affect them? Do we come across as approachable or as aloof? As kind or as harsh? As flexible or as exacting? As warm and humane or as cold and impersonal? As a destructive critic or as a constructive counselor? Let us examine some examples from the past and from modern times to see what we can learn.
[Picture on page 3]
Robert Burns wished that some power would give us the gift to see ourselves as others see us
From the book A History of England