What kind of memories come to mind when you hear the following names. Take a moment and remember Billy Graham. Now take a moment and remember Adolf Hitler. That brief exercise has just proven the proverb that we will examine today.
Proverbs tells us that the memory of the righteous is blessed. God is not saying that the righteous will have a great memory - but rather when people remember the righteous they will do so with a smile on their face and good things in their heart. Godly people not only die well - they also are remembered well. Billy Graham is nearing the day when he will go to be with the Lord. I can promise you that on the day our brother goes to be with Jesus, the memory of who he is and what he has done in the Lord will be a blessing to millions. I remember a scene from the movie, "Chariots of Fire." It was at the very close of the movie. Two men are remembered for the lives that they lived. The first was Harold Abrahams, a sprinter who won a gold medal in the 1924 Olympics. He was a determined man who lived for that medal. When he died some rememebered him as a great sprinter - but Abrahams was not known for his graciousness or great soul. The second man was Eric Liddell, a scotsman, who won gold in the 400, a race many thought he would compete in poorly. Liddell was supposed to be in the 100, but chose not to compete as it would make him do so on a Sunday, something that was against his own religious convictions. After the Olympics Liddell went to China as a missionary where he was dearly loved by the Chinese during his ministry there. The movie spoke of the day Liddell died with these words, "All Scotland mourned." When that godly man went to be with the Lord - all of Scotland mourned his death - and remembered his life with great joy. The memory of the righteous is blessed! That is the case with men like Liddell - but it is also the case with much lesser known men. Being a pastor, I've watched it again and again at funerals.
My third funeral, after I did two for lost people, was for a precious 90+ year old woman who loved the Lord with all her heart. She never raced in the Olympics or went to China as a missionary. She just lived in a small Arkansas community and loved Jesus and those around her all her life. When she died it was such a precious thing to hear from all those who knew her. They spoke glowingly of her commitment to Christ and the way that she lived for God's glory as she gave herself to those around her. Indeed her memory was blessed that day - and many afterward.
But let us turn to Mr. Hitler. Just that name causes people to cringe. Over the years - the rot of that name continues to cast a putrid shadow over history. Adolf Hitler's name will rot throughout all time. He was a wicked man who lived for his own power and conquest. After World War II we learned of his horrific efforts to exterminate an entire race of people. There are few if any who have any kind thoughts toward this man - and those who do usually share his twisted philosophy of a master race. His name will live in infamy and shame for what he did.
So, what kind of memory will you create when your days are done? Will you live for righteousness and godliness? Will you live for Christ and His kingdom with a selfless, self-emptying passion that drives you to bless all those around you? Or will you give yourself to more selfish and self-centered pursuits. Will you embrace wickedness instead of righteousness. What you choose in life will determine how you will be remembered in death. Choose life - choose godliness - choose the path of the righteous that is like the light of dawn, shining brighter till the noon day. If you do this you will leave a memory that will delight the hearts of those who think of you and your works - even long after you have left this life for life eternal.