“The Memory of the Righteous”Categories: M. W. Bassford, Meditations
Proverbs 10:7 reads, “The memory of the righteous is blessed, But the name of the wicked will rot.” It neatly sums up what is left of my earthly aspirations. My life is so reduced that the usual distractions don't matter much to me anymore, but my reputation has become even more important.
This is particularly true with respect to my children. Without the direct intervention of God, I will not live long enough to shepherd them to adulthood. I will only be able to help them through their memories and the memories of others. I want them to remember a father who loved God, loved others, and died with faith and courage. For decades to come, I want them to encounter people who will speak well of me.
However, every earthly desire brings with it earthly vulnerability, and this is no exception. I can control what my children see of me, but I can't control what they think of me. It may be that in adulthood, they decide that I was misguided or even actively harmful in the things I proclaimed.
My influence over those outside of my household is even less. Faithful commitment to God does not protect me from distortion and slander. I have been vilified because I adhere to the Bible’s teaching about the role of women in the church and the practice of homosexuality. Some have not hesitated to accuse me of being bigoted and hateful, even though I detect no animosity toward anyone in myself.
Additionally, God holds me responsible for speaking hard truths not only to outsiders but also to His own. The prophets primarily called Israel and Judah to repentance, not the nations. If I only say the things that I know will be popular and well received by other Christians, I join the ranks of the false prophets.
This does not require outright false teaching (though it often leads to such), merely a diplomatic silence about sin inside the camp. Indeed, as long as I confine my condemnations to the people who won't be reading them, I will gain a reputation for “telling it like it is”. The Pharisees had such a reputation, I believe.
Conversely, if I follow those who are scorned and vilified even by God's people, I will find myself in good company. Of course, this begins with the Lord Himself. He was perfect. He literally never did a single thing wrong. However, rather than winning a good reputation for Himself in the Jewish nation, He was rejected and murdered.
Much the same thing happened to the apostle Paul. Even though he served God as faithfully as he knew how, he aroused such hatred among his countrymen that they followed him around, sometimes for hundreds of miles, to slander him further. When the Romans finally killed him, I would imagine that the majority reaction ranged from relief to joy.
Loyalty to God does not ensure a blessed memory on earth. Sometimes it ensures the opposite. However, even if everyone on earth scorns my name, that loyalty guarantees that He will not. If God remembers, it doesn't matter if everyone else forgets.