Gilland: What matters most?

My wife and I once attended a funeral for the father of a dear friend of mine. Though we didn’t know the deceased, we certainly know and love his son, and that is why we were there.

Like many, I am always moved in my heart in a unique way at funerals, for it is in such a time as death that the celebration of one’s life is most felt and expressed.

Think about it. What is your experience when attending a funeral? What really speaks to you? I am betting that it isn’t the deceased person’s wealth, or what position the person held in his or her company that loved ones remembered and cherished. More than anything, what they usually talk about is the love and kindness that the deceased person freely gave to family and friends.

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Acts 20:35 quotes Jesus in a well-known verse of the Bible, stating that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I heard a pastor once as he was sharing about leaders and their giving. True leaders, as he stated over and over, give of themselves. They give of their time, perhaps accompanying you in a hospital waiting room. They are generous of heart.

People remember the acts of those whose love was more than mere words. Their love was proven by the tangible giving of themselves.

That is why what is remembered and shared at a funeral are the things that truly mean the MOST…one’s heart, and love for others, that was given freely during his life. Those are the memories friends and family remember and recount with deep, appreciative emotion.

Funerals also provide another important service. They cause us to pause for personal reflection, perhaps for an inventory. They are a time for one to ask, “What is it that I am doing with my life? Am I spending my time and effort in the accumulation of material goods? Or am I freely giving away to others from my heart, and from the many blessings that I’ve been given?”

I pray that the latter would be the legacy that we leave behind. If it is, then it doesn’t just mean we died well…it means that we lived well.

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