5. THE THINGS WE SAY AND DO WILL AFFECT PEOPLE EVEN AFTER WE ARE DEAD.
We mentioned this point indirectly in a prior lesson when we noted that had Joseph not forgiven his brothers and had them move to Egypt, then his bones would have never been carried out hundreds of years later. Of course, even more significant is the fact that had not Joseph remained true to God, even when his whole world was crumbling, he would have never risen to the power and authority that he did and many people would have died from the famine! Who knows, other than God, how much impact Joseph had on the future events of world history just because of all the lives he saved! It is possible that some of us today wouldn't even be alive if it weren't for Joseph's faithfulness and actions! Perhaps some of our ancestors would have perished. Truly, the manner in which we live now does affect people even after we are dead.
Do you remember what was written by inspiration about Abel? Hebrews 11:4 - "By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks." Abel's actions affect people even today because we can read about his righteousness and be encouraged to do likewise.
I want the things that my wife and I teach our children to be a reminder to them years after we are dead. I also want them to remember the way their Mom and Dad tried to live. It's been said before: "No man is an island." A similar thought is contained in Romans 14:7 - "For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself." Our actions affect others around us and those who will come after us (perhaps more than we will ever know). What kind of influence are you leaving? Do people see you putting Christ and His kingdom first in your life (Matt. 6:33)?
Jesus Christ is the perfect example when it comes to one's actions affecting others after death. I Peter 2:21 declares - "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps."
Dear friends, as we conclude this series, it should be observed that these five lessons we've gleaned from Joseph's bones can be seen elsewhere in the Scriptures (as we have tried to illustrate). We all must realize our mortality--death is inevitable. You could die today or next year. For some, it could be fifty years from now, but the fact remains that you will die (unless Jesus returns first). Are you ready? We need to learn the value of forgiveness. I'm not just talking about forgiving one another; I'm talking about the forgiveness of God. God wants to forgive you of your sins. He wants you to be saved. When you do die, He wants you to be prepared to meet Him in judgment. God wants you to know that He will do what He says. If we obey the gospel from the heart, then He will forgive our sins. We can know that He will wash them away when we are baptized. But, if we don't obey the gospel, we will someday stand before God while still in our sins and we will be condemned (cf. II Thess. 1:7-9). Not only that, but how we live will affect our children. The decisions we make, whether right or wrong, will affect future generations in significant ways. Let's make sure we make the right decisions in our lives, for our sake and for the sake of those that come after us!