"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." Revelation 14:13
A touch of pessimism and cynicism is inherent in what Shakespeare has an actor say, “The evil that men do lives after them, the good is often interred with their bones” (“Julius Caesar,” act 3, scene 2).
It is true: Deceased evildoers have successors who carry on evil designs—sometimes their own sons. Ahab, the evil king of Israel, was succeeded by his son Ahaziah, who likewise “did evil in the eyes of the LORD” (1 Kings 22:52). Evil is perpetuated because all people are sinners. It is easy for children to walk in the sins of their parents. And so the evil done by people lives on.
What about the second part of Shakespeare’s statement? Is the good that people do buried with them? Sometimes, yes, but not always, depending on what it is. The good that people do in the expression of their faith is work that God blesses; it remains in one form or another. Jesus told His disciples that, if they lived in Him, they would be fruitful in their work, and their fruit “will last” (John 15:16). How true! The Twelve left this world almost 20 centuries ago, but their message and mission continues to this day. Jesus Christ is still being proclaimed as the crucified Savior who rose from the dead for the salvation of the world.
Coming closer to home, we ask: What about our own Christian work, our purposes, our influence? Will they be “interred with our bones”? Of course, some things we stood for will cease when we die. The psalmist says of important people—the mortal princes of this world—when they die: “On that very day their plans come to nothing” (Psalm 146:4). This statement does not apply to those who followed God’s plan. The good done by Christian parents, teachers, pastors, missionaries, and rank-and-file Christians lives on. This is true: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes … they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them” (Revelation 14:13).
The above has to be added to put Shakespeare’s statement into proper perspective.
PRAYER: Thank You, Lord God, for knowing me as one of Your children, and that my work done to Your glory will last. Amen.
(Devotions from "With Jesus Every Day" copyright 1997, CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend. For information on other devotional material, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit CPH at www.cph.org.)