ODJ: Write Your Epitaph

August 23, 2016 

READ: 2 Timothy 4:1-8  

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race and I have remained faithful (v.7).

A famous epitaph that doubles as a pun can be found in the Boothill Graveyard in Tombstone, Arizona (America). It reads, “HERE LIES LESTER MOORE, FOUR SLUGS FROM A 44, NO LES NO MORE.” The Wells, Fargo & Co. station agent died in an Old-West gun battle with another man in the late 1800s.

Some 18 centuries earlier, the apostle Paul wrote his own ‘epitaph’. In an apparent final letter written prior to his martyrdom in Rome, the apostle wrote these words to his protégé Timothy: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of His return” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Paul’s summation of his life must have been a challenge and encouragement to Timothy, just as it is to us nearly two millennia later.

One day, if you and I were to write our own epitaph, may we find that these three words best described our time on earth: Offering—Paul described his life as a sacrifice poured out “to God” (v.6); faithful—the apostle could rightly declare that he had faithfully fought to proclaim his belief in Jesus wherever he went (v.7); expectation—in anticipation of being with Jesus and receiving a victor’s “crown of righteousness”, Paul’s days were filled with purpose—the passionate words and actions of one who eagerly awaited being with his Saviour forever (v.8).

Are we living purposeful lives for Christ today? Paul wrote, “The prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing” (v.8). Far better than a well-worded epitaph, our living, loving Lord gives us the hope and strength we need to live for Him today!

—Tom Felten

365-day plan: Mark 10:1-16

Read 1 Cor. 3:10-15 and think about what the foundation of your life is made of and how it will affect the words of your epitaph. 
Which believers in Jesus do you know will one day deserve words of honour on their epitaphs? What marks their life and character? How are you growing in your faith and the proclaiming of it?