“Well done, good and faithful servant.” I’ve heard that line many times during funerals and sermons. But when I heard it said by a minister a couple of weekends ago, it really hit home.
It seems like I’ve been attending many funerals lately. Too many. This time the funeral was in Charlotte. As I pulled into the parking lot of the church, I knew I wasn’t in Clinton anymore. It was a large, modern church campus, like several you see as you travel around southeast Charlotte. I don’t know if you could call it a “megachurch,” but according to their worship brochure, (don’t call it a church bulletin) they did have over 1600 people in attendance the previous Sunday. As I walked into the vast lobby, (they call it the Gathering Space) I felt like I was in a convention center, or a mall, not a church. Sitting down in the Worship Center (don’t call it a sanctuary) for the service my thoughts turned to my friend.
Gloria was a friend from way back, from over thirty years ago. She and I were a part of a loose group of friends, who, as young adults, were just starting our work careers. But more importantly, we all supported and helped each other as we were trying to find our path in the Lord, and grow as Christians.
After a couple of years, it seemed like everyone went in different directions, due to changes in careers, getting married, etc. I knew Gloria had moved to Charlotte, but with all the stuff of life, we hadn’t been in contact with each other for many years. Then, about a year ago I heard that Gloria had a brain tumor. I knew I had to go and visit her. As soon as we could work it out, a mutual friend, who also lives in Charlotte, and I went to visit Gloria at her home. The disease and the cancer treatments were already starting to take its toll on her physical body. But it hadn’t touched her spirit. We laughed and talked about the old days. But more importantly, the cancer hadn’t touched her faith. With loving support from her family, she was fighting the good fight.
Terri and I went back to see Gloria later last summer. We both came back home impressed with how she and her family were dealing with the pain and difficulties of the disease. There was a short period of time when it was thought the cancer was in remission. But it came back in December, and this time the brain cancer took its final toll.
So there I was, sitting, listening to another funeral of a friend. The minister was talking about Gloria’s battle with cancer and how her faith inspired others around her. My mind lingered back to those days in Lumberton, where Gloria and those friends helped me to not only grow, but also enjoy and have fun being a Christian. Then the minister quoted Matthew 25, saying Gloria had fought the fight, had gone to meet her heavenly father, where He has said, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
When the minister said it, it hit me. It really hit me. Maybe, it was because Gloria was my age. Maybe, it was because in the past two years I have lost my two best friends, my father and my friend, Dale. Or maybe, God was trying to get me to see something that was really important.
We all want to be liked, to be judged favorably by those around us. Whether we admit it or not, we all care about what others think of us. It’s human nature. But the truth is, people determine their opinion of one another from their own frame of reference. The most obvious example is how some people think a certain politician is a saint. But other people may think that the very same politician is the antichrist. The fact is, he is neither. I’m probably not as good as some people think I am, and hopefully I’m not as bad as others may feel. Why? Because no one really knows me completely, except One.
I’ve been reminded that, ultimately, the only opinion that really matters is that One, God. And, am I living my life with that in mind? That day, which is sooner than it has been, will He say, “Well done, good and faithful servant?” That would be great. But, to tell the truth, I’d settle for God looking at my life on that day and saying, “Well, considering everything, you’ve done all right.”