Elizabeth Taylor died this week. In part her obituary read,
Taylor was the most blessed and cursed of actresses, the toughest and the most vulnerable. She had extraordinary grace, wealth and voluptuous beauty…
Of course it would be difficult to sum up any life in three words.
- – She was an actress, a humanitarian and a loyal friend.
- – Her son remarked that “My Mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humor, and love.”
- – The beginning of obituary recounted her sultry screen persona, stormy personal life and enduring fame.
So which was it — grace, wealth and beauty — actress, humanitarian, and loyal friend — passion, humor and love — or sultry, stormy and famous? Perhaps all of them, from different perspectives.
It’s hard to sum up a life in three words, but if you could choose any three words that you hope would sum up your life, what would they be? By the way, I love the story of the three men who were asking each other that very question. The last man to speak had listened patiently while the other two had extolled the virtues they hoped people would remember about them. When it was his turn to speak, he said, “Three words, I hope everyone at my funeral says three words. LOOK. HE’S. ALIVE!
Besides those three, what three would you choose? It’s hard for me to narrow mine down. I hope my three words aren’t limited to sweater-vests, Krispee Kreme Donuts, or Coffee. I like words like; fun, real, inspiring, passionate, husband, father, pastor, and risk-taker. But my three top hopes? I hope people say that I was generous, courageous, and wise. Why those three? I choose those three because I believe that they are tangible characteristics of someone who is passionately loved by Christ, and is passionately living for Christ.
Generosity is a tangible expression of God’s passion. Passion is not merely inspired feelings. Passion is sacrificial love; the passion of Christ is displayed on the cross. “For God so loved the world that He gave…” When we are generous we show others the passion of Christ.
Courage is the the ultimate expression of humility. When I come to the point where I realize that it’s not all about me, when I love someone or something more than I love myself, I begin to live courageously.
Wisdom — according to James is relational ambition that has found the simple power of doing good. Wisdom changes the world. James writes in 3:17-18
17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.
I’ll be honest, I don’t measure up to those three words yet. I hope God gives me a bit more time to grow into them. What are your words?