A dear friend of mine died last week. Someone I grew up with. We went all through school together, and as adults, worshiped together at the same church in Orlando until John and I moved to Dallas. He died suddenly – an “aortic rupture”. I find great mercy in that. As John and I often say, “You gotta go sometime, so pray it’s quick and painless and that you’re swept up in the arms of Jesus before you realize what’s happened.” My friend was “home” before he knew what hit him. But that’s not the point of my writing today.
Once the death of my friend made the social media circuits thousands of beautiful words of remembrance began populating his FaceBook page. Folks were unabashed to declare publicly just how much our friend had meant to them personally. They were heartfelt words from both men and women. Words of love, and praise, and respect, and honor… and they were simply lovely to read.
Clearly he was greatly and dearly loved.
Clearly he had made quite an impact.
Clearly he’d left quite a legacy.
It made me wonder whether he’d known that while he was living.
Eulogizing the dead is socially appropriate if not expected. Not to be morbid, but it is usually the part of anyone’s memorial service that we look forward to most; hearing the good words people have to say about the dearly departed as they celebrate a life-well-lived. It seems that most of us are quick and generous to allow words of blessing, love, appreciation, and admiration spill from our lips… after a person is no longer around to hear them. Or we save the best things, the “things I wish I’d said” for last…when it’s too late for them to matter to the one you’re lavishing a good word on.
And what’s that all about?
Now, admittedly I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but doesn’t it make more sense to tell somebody all the good things you think about them while they’re alive? To bless them while they’re here to receive the blessing?
It occurred to me: What would happen if we began making a habit out of eulogizing the living?
Think that’s morbid? I don’t.
The English word “eulogize” comes from the compound Greek word eulogeo which means, to bless, to speak well of, to praise another… with words. So basically, a eulogy is words of blessing and praise spoken over or about a person.
Why do we wait until a person is dead to say such beautiful things? And what difference might we make in a living person’s life if we’d just simply lay a little eulogeo on them for no big-deal-reason, but just because.
I’m a huge fan of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church. I’ve read it over and over throughout my walk with Jesus; I’ve taught it, prayed it, and memorized parts of it. It’s a beautiful framework for how to live life on this planet as a true follower of Jesus, and the message never ceases to blow my mind. In his opening words Paul reminds us that God has “…blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly place…” (Ephesians 1:3, ESV). That’s a lotta blessing!!! Yep, you got it… that’s the word eulogeo. Paul tells us that God has spoken and continues to speak words of blessing and praise over His followers. Simply put- God speaks well of you, my friend. All the time. Not just after you’re dead. That knowledge should so shift our thinking that you and I would not hesitate for one second to speak a good word of blessing and praise over another. Just because. Just because life is too short not to.
I told you earlier that my friend went “home” quite suddenly. No warning. No long goodbye. Yes, “quickly” is a merciful way to go if you’re the one going. It’s not so merciful if you’re the one left behind with a mouthful of sweet words choking you; words you’d wished you’d spoken a dozen times over and years sooner.
The Bible says that “the tongue can speak words that bring life or death…” (Proverbs 18:21, ERV). Our words have the power to give life, to build others up, to encourage them, inspire them, give them hope, redirect their path, to help them to see things from God’s perspective. But if we never speak them they are worthless. Thinking a good word of blessing is not eulogeo. Biblically speaking, the good word has to be spoken in order to be a blessing and bring a blessing to the one we aim to bless.
What do you suppose would happen if you and I began the practice of eulogizing the living in our lives?
- Have you been withholding words of blessing and praise, gratitude or admiration from someone? Stop withholding and start eulogeo!
- Have you been meaning to tell someone how much he or she means to you? How much you love them or admire them? How much they’ve impacted your life for good? Sit down today and make that call. Write that letter. Meet that friend for coffee or lunch and eulogize them them face-to-face.
- Maybe there’s someone who bugs the snot out of you, or with whom you’ve been offended or held a grudge. Stop right now, and let words of eulogeo spill from your lips. It will bless your own heart to do so!
Let’s be people who speak our words liberally and beautifully to eulogize the living. I believe speaking blessing now has the profound potential to change the world we live in for the better. For good!
You are greatly and dearly loved by The King!
Photo Credit: Larry White Photography