August 17, 2020
said, "The memory of the just is
blessed, but the name of the wicked
shall rot" (Proverbs 10:7). This wisdom
saying is concerned with the legacy of
our lives, or how we are remembered and
how this “memory” will influence others.
modern translations and paraphrases help
us better understand this biblical
maxim: “The memory of the righteous is
blessed” (NAS) and “is a blessing”
(ESV). Or, “a good and honest life is a
blessed memorial” (The Message). Or,
“Good people will be remembered as a
blessing, but evil people will soon be
forgotten” (NCV). Let's go deeper.
If we live
right—a life filled with just, godly,
loving deeds—God will "bless," or
preserve, the memory of our lives. He
will prompt fond recollections (and, in
high-profile cases, biographies) and use
them to bless others when they consider
what we were and how we lived. Thus,
death will not be the end of us.
Though silenced in this world, our lives
will continue speaking from the next, as
Hebrews says of righteous Abel: "He
being dead yet speaketh" (Hebrews 11:4).
Or, "Though Abel is long dead, he still
speaks to us by his example of faith"
(NLT). Like Abel's, our faith-filled
words, ways, and actions will live on
and bear fruit after we pass, continuing
to influence or draw others to live a
“blessed” life of right living springing
from right relationship and personal
fellowship with the righteous One,
If, however, we live wickedly—a life
not rightly related to the
righteous One but marked instead by
consistently unfair, sinful, selfish and
inconsiderate speech and actions—God
will not bless the memory of our lives.
Rather than ripen into the sweet fruit
of honorable memories, our lives will
“rot,” withering away in others'
memories until we are completely
forgotten. Thus, death will be the end
of us. Our lives will leave no legacy
worth remembering and following. Death
will silence us in this world and our
unworthy living will not allow us to
speak from the next.
Matthew Henry identifies God as the One
who honors the memory of the righteous
and cites a Jewish custom as an
illustration: "'Let the memory of the
just be blessed,' so the Jews read it,
and observe it as a precept, not naming
an eminently just man that is dead
without adding, 'Let his memory be
blessed.'" The Bible amens this.
By God's design, the Bible repeatedly
showcases good lives for us to remember
and "bless" with our commendations and
For example, I think of Joseph's life -
and am inspired to be faithful in great
adversity and humble when honored. I
think of David's life - and am moved to
sing and worship the Lord with my bodily
harp (larynx) and musical harp (piano).
I think of Mordecai - and am stirred to
not honor the wicked who are harming
God's people nor fail to challenge the
righteous who are stepping back from
helping God's people. I think of Paul -
and am ashamed to complain about my much
smaller thorns, crosses, and storms.
Church history has also enshrined many
I think of Martin Luther - and am
inspired to stand with God's Word no
matter how many or powerful they are who
stand against it. I think of William
Carey or Hudson Taylor - and am given
fresh inspiration to persevere in my
divine calling even when for long
periods the fruits of my labors are
withheld and success seems increasingly
impossible. But I have other "memories
of the just" closer to home.
I think of a dear brother in Christ very
close to me who passed into Jesus'
presence just a few years ago, John J.
(Jack) McHugh, Jr. Jack was loving,
gracious, skilled and diligent in his
work, full of integrity, an able teacher
and, above all, committed to staying
close to Jesus and fulfilling his
calling - though he had a substantial
cross to bear daily which Christ, in His
higher wisdom, never removed.
Every time I think of Jack, I'm blessed
- and stirred to draw closer to Christ,
work steadier in my calling, and bear my
cross with a willing heart . . . until
Jesus comes or I pass.
You have your own "Jacks," whose
memories goad you to a higher walk in
your lowest moments. So, Solomon says,
receive the ministry of their memory and
see to it that you live in such a way
that your memory also becomes
ministerial one day.
Here is strong motivation for living
right, loving right, serving right,
suffering right . . . and leaving right.