EDITORIAL -- An Immortality of Shame
All of us are making some kind of lasting record by our lives. When we depart this life, our associates will remember us by the chronicles of our lives. Of certain righteous ones, the Apostle John wrote, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; for their works follow with them" (Rev. 14:13). Speaking of the saints in Corinth, Paul said "Ye are our epistles, written in our hearts, known and read of all men" (2 Cor. 3:2). Each one of us should reflect upon what kind of a report of our lives are we writing by the daily affairs of our existence. Certain men are remembered merely because of their infamous and outrageous conduct. Others we remember because of their righteous deeds. "Which shall it be, for you and me?"
There are some among us who do not believe in "calling names." It is pathetic when men think they have better ethics and morals than God. Furthermore, to take a position that disagrees with the action of God is to indict God. In the Bible reports are given regarding certain specific men and their ignominious deeds. Paul states that "Hymenaeus and Alexander" had trust from themselves "faith and a good conscience," and had "made shipwreck concerning the faith" (I Tim. 1: 18-20). But Hymenaeus did not stop with spiritual self-destruction. He was so enmeshed in doctrinal error, and in his zeal to propagate this error, that he also destroyed others. Paul stated that the error of false teachers eats like a cancer, and results in the overthrow of the faith of those who listen to it. There is nothing in the world as devastating and dishonorable as the teacher of religious error. He is a soul-destroyer. Hymeneaus, Alexander, and Philetus (see 2 Tim. 2:16-18) made their mark in history all right. But theirs is a mark of infamy and disgraceful shame.
Paul also makes mention of an Alexander the coppersmith, whom he said "did me much evil," for which the Lord will render to him according to his works (2 Tim. 4:14). Demas, who at one time had been Paul's coworker (Col. 4:14), had later forsaken Paul "having loved this present world" (2 Tim. 4: 10). So very little is said in the sacred record regarding the lives of these men, but they are depicted as having made an immortality of shame for themselves.
There are many in our own age who are making infamous records for themselves, not only upon divine records, but they will be so pictured by future historians. Many are now traitors of the Cause which they once so ably espoused. It is pitiful to me to see a man negate nearly an entire lifetime of service by renouncing what he has so long and so rightly preached. There are some who lived great lives nearly unto the very end, and then became spiritual "blanks" before their death. They neither stand for nor against. They try to become spiritual neutrals, and there is no such creature.
It nearly makes me weep to contemplate the spiritual hero-role that some have wrought by almost a life-time of service, and then to see such ones neutralize or negate all for which they once stood. There is something that frequently softens men as they grow older. -So frequently have men destroyed a whole lifetime of influence for good and for truth by the spineless dealings of their last few years that it has made me sometimes wish that I could "check-out" before any such distasteful "mellowing" (?) sets in. In the vigor of one's manhood he chooses where he shall stand, and then in the senility of old-age he is apt to belie his entire life. We should pray God for strength to live out our old age with the same firmness that characterized our strong years.
If God were writing a sacred record of your life for future generations to read, would he depict you as a faithful Luke (2 Tim. 4: 11), or as an unfaithful and untrustworthy Demas? One should not be only concerned about his reputation among men and about the record of his life that men will know, but he should be concerned about whether the total and final impact of his life shall be upon the side of truth, or with the forces of error. God, no doubt about it, will classify him where his life has been thrust and cast. But by inaction at a time when action is called for, or by weakness in one's last years, one can erase the impact of long years of service.
Let us all be exceedingly careful that we do not leave behind us a record that is such that it will guarantee us an immortality of shame, such as that of those whom the Bible mentions so briefly, and then only to record their sins and spinelessness.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 39, pp. 3-4