How Will You Be Remembered?
1 Chronicles 3-4, Ephesians 5
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. – Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV
In chapter 3 of 1 Chronicles we are given a complete listing of the Davidic line of succession all the way up until the time when the people of Judah were taken captive to Babylon. It begins with David and ends with Zedekiah, the last king of Judah. In-between we have a list all the kings who ruled over Judah and it is a fascinating compilation of characters. At first glance, it is just a listing of hard-to-pronounce names. But after having worked our way through the books of 1 and 2 Kings, we know that each of these names represents a particular individual who either sought God during his lifetime or turned his back on God and led the nation of Judah into a lifestyle of unfaithfulness. The original Jewish readers of the book of 1 Chronicles would have been very familiar with these names and their reputations. They would have known of Solomon and his wisdom. But they would have also known about his failure to live faithfully and obediently for God, resulting in the split of the kingdom. They would have been familiar with Manasseh and how he had built altars in the house of the Lord and even burned his own son as a sacrifice to one of the many false gods he worshiped. They would have heard about Josiah, who took the throne at the age of eight, but did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. He instituted reforms and attempted to restore the nation of Judah to its covenant relationship with God. Each of the names in this listing represent a life that was marked by a reputation. They would be remembered for the things they had done and the lifestyle they had lived. It’s interesting to note that in the middle of this genealogical listing, one name is given special attention. It is the name of Jabez, an obscure individual who is remembered for having been more honorable than all his brothers. He prayed that God would bless him and increase his borders, keeping him from harm. And the text reads, “And God granted what he asked” (1 Chronicles 4:10 ESV). One man who turned to God and asked Him for blessing, protection and provision. His simple prayer illustrates a faithful, committed life lived in obedience to and dependence upon God.
What does this passage reveal about God?
Every one of the names listed in these two chapters in 1 Chronicles represents an individual who was a member of the chosen people of God. He had been born into the nation of Israel and was set apart as a worshiper of the one true God. But not all of them lived up to their calling. God had set apart the people of Israel as His own possession. He had given them His name, provided them with His law, and graciously made available His sacrificial system to ensure their forgiveness of sin and the possibility of remaining in a right relationship with Him. He had freed them from captivity in Egypt, led them through the wilderness and provided them with a land of their own. He had given them victories in battle, showed them mercy when they had sinned, exhibited patience when they were unfaithful, and offered them the promise of His blessing if they would simply obey Him. All He had asked in return was that they remain faithful to Him. He had forbidden them to worship other gods or to live like the nations all around them. He simply desired that they live distinctively and differently, illustrating to the rest of the world what it looks like to follow the one true God. Their lives were to have been a visual representation of true godliness in a world filled with false gods. God’s expectation of them was exactly what Paul communicated to the believers in Ephesus hundreds of years later. “Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:8-10 ESV).
What does this passage reveal about man?
God has always expected His people to live differently. He has always desired that those who are called by His name exhibit characteristics that are in keeping with His name. But the long list of names found in 1 Chronicles 3-4 contains more than a few individuals whose reputations were far from godly and who lived their lives in darkness rather than the light. Paul exhorts his readers that, as believers, their lives were not to be characterized by sexual immorality, impurity, coveting, foolish talk, crude joking, or unfruitful works of darkness. Instead, they were to try to discern what was pleasing to God. As light, they were to expose the deeds of darkness, rather than participate in them. They were to illuminate the darkness of sin all around them, not take part in it. Paul encourages them to “look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15 ESV). Their relationship with God was to have a direct impact on how they lived their lives. It was to influence every facet of their lives, including their relationships with their spouses. They were to walk in love and mutual submission. They were to imitate God just as a child imitates his father. They were to be known and recognized for who they were – the children of God. But the temptation for all of us is to blend into the woodwork and to become just like the world around us. We find it so easy to compromise with the world and allow our light to become absorbed by the darkness. God had called the people of Israel to be set apart from the world, but they failed to live up to that calling. He has issued that same call to those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. He has even given us His Holy Spirit to make it possible. But we must submit to His Spirit. We must desire to live according to His will. We must want to live as light in the midst of the darkness. Like Jabez, we must recognize our need for and dependence upon God to live our lives in this world. We must be willing to ask, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that you hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” (1 Chronicles 4:10 ESV).
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
This life is not easy. This world is a difficult place in which to live as salt and light. It is so easy to allow my reputation to become marred by a love for this world and “the unfruitful works of darkness” (Ephesians 5:11 ESV). But at the end of my life, I want my reputation to be that of a man who remained faithful to His God and who lived in dependence upon His Spirit. I want to be remembered as someone who tried to imitate God and who will be recognized as having been a child of God. I have been set apart by God for His use. I have been made His child and an heir to His kingdom. I have been given His Spirit and have access to His power. My greatest desire should be to live in such a way that i reflect my relationship as His child and reveal His light through my life.
Father, I want to be remembered as Your child. I want my reputation to be honoring to You, not me. I ask that you continue Your sanctifying work in my life, transforming me into the likeness of Your Son, so that I might mirror His character and reflect His light into the darkness that fills this world. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men