I have heard people express what they wanted to be inscribed for an epitaph on their tombstone or voiced at their funeral. I have not thought much of what would be said about me as I would be with the Lord, and nothing said on earth at that time would matter. I haven't given much consideration as to whether it is important what I want to be said about me when I go on to be with my Lord. The importance that some people put upon the impressions they leave concerning their lives made me wonder if I was missing the point of something important in life. Why didn't I give it much thought and why was it not important to me?
What is often said about most men at a funeral is the same old boring thing, "He was a good provider." Of course, that should go without saying, as this is what a husband, father, and provider of home and family is supposed to do - be a provider. In some cases, things that are said are not true. I remember some people expressing platitudes at a memorial about a deceased man I knew well. According to some of the mourners, he was a great father and an understanding husband with a generous heart. The truth was, that he was an obnoxious abusive husband, a brutal father with very little compassion or mercy except for people who he thought he could get something out of. Of course, one does not stand up and shout at a person's memorial, "What a load of rubbish." We just bow our heads and think, "When is this going to be over?" Maybe this is what Jesus meant when He said, "Let the dead bury the dead."
I do acknowledge that this man could have repented for his actions and choices in life before he died, but that is between him and his creator. We never know the heart's negotiations that take place on a death bed. I firmly believe in the fact that Jesus gives us every opportunity to repent and accept Christ's sacrifice before death. Even if the person is in a coma or delusional, Jesus can get through to them. Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men. Only God truly knows what should be written on our gravestone, because He has been there every minute of our life and has the real account of who and why we are the person we were when we passed on.
As I said, I have not given much thought about what would be the inscription stating who I was, until I was reading Romans chapter sixteen. The scripture verse jumped out at me, and I said out loud, "There Lord, that's it, this is what I want to be said about me when I am gone. I want what is said about Apelles." Romans 16:10a Greet Apelles, the one tested and approved in Christ. Oh my, yes, yes, yes Lord! May it be said that I was tested and approved in Christ. Isn't this what everyone wants? It is as great an accolade as, "Well done good and faithful servant." Matt. 25:23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy.’
The reality is, if I or any of us want Apelles' words said about us, then we will have to live up to the statement's value and truth. We will have to come through some tests in life and be approved, reproved, and sanctified throughout our lives to own those simple words. I cannot do it on my own, but Christ who lives in me can make it happen. Gal. 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. What a simple mission statement, tested and approved is - when compared to all the epitaphs that are out there.
One day, we will all meet our Lord and maker. I try to have no final judgments on anyone's life because that is the Lord's work. If the things said are honest and true concerning the integrity of those who have gone on, then thank God for the righteous people who have given us an example of forthright living. Prov. 22:1 A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. I am blessed to have found the inspiring words, tested and approved in Christ. These words have become a beacon set before me. May we all come through the tests we were created to accomplish during our short time on this earth. May we all help approve each other in the love of God. Amen!