On my drive back from the cemetery at St. John, I thought of something I wish I would have said: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches.” This simple statement from Proverbs 22:1 offers a profound description of Roger Taylor.
When I spoke at Roger’s funeral yesterday, it was easy to think of good things to say about this extraordinary example of humanity. Decent, kind, and generous, are three words that offer an honest estimation of the genuine life Roger lived as a husband, a father, and a Christian.
Ben Franklin once said that, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” Roger lived a life of good deeds. As I reflect on his many years as a member of First Christian, I remember his willingness to serve as a deacon, an elder, and the chairman of the board—always unassuming and never wanting to ruffle any feathers.
Because they would make Roger blush, I’m a little reluctant to close with the next line or two; however, they are so true, I shall. D.L. Moody said, “If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.” Roger has been a man of character, and he developed the reputation of being a man of “tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, and longsuffering (Colossians 3:12).”
A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich; a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank. The rich and the poor shake hands as equals—God made them both! A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks; a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered. The payoff for meekness and Fear-of-God is plenty and honor and a satisfying life. ~ Proverbs 22:1-4 (The Message)
The phone rang twice, and then I heard Johnny Lawson’s voice say a raspy, “Hello.” I said, “I just called to see if you’re still among the living.” He replied, “Hi Stan, I still recognize your voice after all of these years.”
Johnny was my immediate supervisor when I reported for duty at Peterson Field, in Colorado Springs. I had one measly stripe sewn to my shirt sleeve and a big mouth that kept getting me into trouble. Fortunately, Johnny’s uniform was lined with stripes, and he had my back.
Each year when October makes its appearance on the calendar. I think quite a bit about Johnny. I’ve called this fine man my friend for the past 43 years.
Johnny did more than save my hide, he was also instrumental in saving my soul. Through the wonderful kindness of him and his family, I came to know Jesus as my Savior.
When I think of Johnny, I think of the way Solomon spoke of friends:
- Some friends may ruin you, but a real friend will be more loyal than a brother (Proverbs 18:24)
- A true friend loves regardless of the situation, and a real brother exists to share the tough times (Proverbs 17:17)
- In the same way that iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend (Proverbs 27:17).
I have to agree with Charles Spurgeon, “Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life. Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial, had they not found a friend.”
In October of 1972, Johnny Lawson walked into the emergency where I was being treated for a severe head injury. Over the next month, he and his family went far beyond the call of duty to help nurse me back to health.
Had this friend not found me, I might have failed beneath the bitterness of my trial. Johnny Lawson is my definition of what a friend is to be.
It seems to me that friction and factions are striking a note of discord much too frequently. Everyone is asserting their rights, and no one is willing to play second fiddle. As a result, society has lost the sweet sound of harmony.
This is evident whether you are looking inside of the church or outside of the sanctuary, and it was one of Paul’s major concerns when he wrote the letter to the Philippians. Paul knew that sweet songs of harmony are sung in the key of humility.
Humility is the love song of the church, and Paul penned the lyrics in the second chapter of Philippians:
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.~ Philippians 2:1-4
One verse of this song seems to summarize all of it: “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.”
A good understanding of humility is important, so I encourage you to give a little thought to these wise words :
- C. S. Lewis: Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.
- Thomas Merton: Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.
- Andrew Murray: Pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you.
- D.L. Moody: A man can counterfeit love, he can counterfeit faith, he can counterfeit hope and all the other graces, but it is very difficult to counterfeit humility
The difference between the genuine and the counterfeit, is the difference between a juice harp and the music of the Boston Pops. One is noise, and the other is the hum of sweet harmony.
You can listen to the difference for yourself by clicking on each of these words: Juice Harp and Boston Pops.