Everyone dies. That’s a fact. Flesh decays and bones dry out. The only things the dead leave are memories.
The Jews had a tradition when speaking of the memory of a just man: “Let his memory be blessed,” they’d say. Nothing would be said of the unjust man. The memories of the wicked, like their rotting flesh, are useless and disgusting, “eaten with worms.”
No one wants to touch the memories of the wicked with a ten-foot pole. They are treated with contempt. Just by the mention of their name makes you wrinkle your nose like the smell of rotting road kill. Bad behavior and the commission of evil deeds leave a legacy of rottenness, and often, generations of destroyed lives.
Proverbs chapter 10 is a list of contrasts written down by the wise King Solomon to train readers in righteousness. Observe a few:
- Wise versus foolish
- Slack versus diligent
- Blessing versus violence
- Integrity versus perversion
- Rich versus poor
In the New Testament, when we first meet the apostle Paul, he is introduced as Saul and he is present at the stoning of the Christian evangelist Stephen (Acts 7). He is known as a persecutor of the followers of Jesus. He hunted people down and jailed them for having the wrong faith and politics; splitting up families and destroying the newfound peace early Christians found through salvation in Jesus. If that were all Saul did in his life, we would never know his name. If he had never encountered Jesus, his name would have rotted along with his flesh and bones when he died.
But Saul did encounter Jesus. In the exchange, Saul got a new name, a new life, and a new mission that was in complete contrast with the one he had. He went from . . .
- Destroying lives to discipling men and women in the faith
- Separating families to uniting groups of families into churches
- Cursing people for their faith in Jesus to setting them free with the historic, holy, and transforming words we read in the New Testament.