"What would your funeral be like if all they did was read your Facebook statuses for the eulogy?"
A eulogy is defined as 'a commendatory oration or writing especially in honor of one deceased'. A eulogy is usually given by someone who knew the person who died very well. It is meant to recap their life and character... in a positive way. I've done a few funerals, and even those with a mostly sketchy life usually have someone get up to say something nice about them.
But my friend's questions is piercing. It goes along with another thought I've encountered over the years.
"You are writing your eulogy every day."
This is especially poignant. Now, if you are writing your eulogy every day, and your Facebook or other social media updates are a reflection of your every day, what would that look like at your funeral? What if someone read your status updates at your funeral... curse words, crude jokes, sexual innuendo and all? Would that be a nice event? What if there was a screen running a stream of the photos and 'funny' videos you post? Yes... including the ones of you nearly baring it all. Would everyone sit there and say, "My... she was such a fine human being and wonderful woman", or would they say, "Yikes... I should probably shield my eyes"? Would they say, "Now that is a fine example of a young man" or would they say, "I hope my kids weren't influenced by him"?
We may want them to edit or pick and choose which content goes up on the screen. We would want them to share the best reflection of us. But it isn't their job to edit my/your life. It is my job to edit my life. It is your job to edit your life. Here and now. I've had family members at funerals ask me to avoid certain topics. I've had others say, "You don't have to make him a saint. Everyone here knows his life." And I guess that is the point... everyone knows your life... except for those secret areas. But people can even figure those out. Even if we edited your Facebook/Twitter feed for your funeral, all of your friends would know better.
Here is a real life example of a woman whose funeral was preached during her life, and her life changed her funeral...
In the city of Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. She was always doing good works and acts of charity. In those days she became sick and died. After washing her, they placed her in a room upstairs. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples heard that Peter was there and sent two men to him who begged him, “Don’t delay in coming with us.” So Peter got up and went with them. When he arrived, they led him to the room upstairs. And all the widows approached him, weeping and showing him the robes and clothes that Dorcas had made while she was with them. Then Peter sent them all out of the room. He knelt down, prayed, and turning toward the body said, “Tabitha, get up!” She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. He gave her his hand and helped her stand up. Then he called the saints and widows and presented her alive. This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. (Acts 9:36-42)
So this lady lived such a stellar open life that when she died, the people were not embarrassed by her activity... but actually were so positively impacted by her life that they couldn't imagine living without her. Is that me? Is that you? As people watch our news feed, do they think, "I don't want to ever lose this kind of a person in my life"? Or are they thinking, "Hmmm... I hate to delete friends, but I can't handle this cussing and drama... and I don't want to see that much of their body. I love them, but I can't have this in my news feed or life."
The Bible speaks of the death of another woman, named Jezebel. The back story is... Jezebel was an evil, mean, and loose woman. Yes... We call such women today 'Jezebel' because of this woman.
When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard about it, so she painted her eyes, adorned her head, and looked down from the window. As Jehu entered the gate, she said, “Do you come in peace, Zimri, killer of your master?”
He looked up toward the window and said, “Who is on my side? Who?” Two or three eunuchs looked down at him, and he said, “Throw her down!” So they threw her down, and some of her blood splattered on the wall and on the horses, and Jehu rode over her.
Then he went in, ate and drank, and said, “Take care of this cursed woman and bury her, since she’s a king’s daughter.” But when they went out to bury her, they did not find anything but her skull, her feet, and the palms of her hands. So they went back and told him, and he said, “This fulfills the Lord’s word that He spoke through His servant Elijah the Tishbite: ‘In the plot of land at Jezreel, the dogs will eat Jezebel’s flesh. Jezebel’s corpse will be like manure on the surface of the field in the plot of land at Jezreel so that no one will be able to say: This is Jezebel.’” (2 Kings 9:30-37)
Have you ever met a girl named Jezebel? No... because her reputation would be shot before she exited the maternity ward. Each person's life leaves an impression beyond their breathing. We can't make people like us, but we can live lives that are exemplary... and beyond that, pure. You can't determine what someone chooses to believe about you, but you do determine what they have to choose from.
Another phrase that goes with this concept is, "Live your life in such a way that the preacher doesn't have to lie at your funeral." Everyone will see through a eulogy... right into your life. Are you good with that?
In the end, one of the wise saying in Scripture says it best... "A good name is to be chosen over great wealth." (Proverbs 22:1)
Today you get to edit your life, and in doing so, you edit your funeral. No one is perfect. But even those with a checkered past can become a solid person with high character. Don't count on a preacher to clean up your story so people won't cringe during your eulogy. You are living your eulogy now. Make it a great one.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.