It is easy to let the urgent push out the important. Stephen R. Covey suggested that each person ought to envision his own funeral. Imagine there will be one speaker from family, one from friends, one from work and one from church. Try to "hear" what each speaker would say about you if your funeral was today (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, New York: Simon and Shuster, 1989, 96-97). Honestly ask how you could live so as to eliminate those things you would not like to hear and add those you would like to hear.

Covey also suggested the most effective people begin with the end in mind. Paul expressed that very idea in Philippians 3:13-14. He focused on a single goal, heaven (1:21-24). Such living allowed him to face death with confidence (2 Tim. 4:6-8). Looking ahead to the end enabled great men and women of faith to live as wanderers in tents rather than more permanent structures. Their longed-for homeland was not on earth, but in heaven (Heb. 11:13-16).

Joseph was able to turn aside the advances of Mrs. Potiphar and not seek vengeance on his brothers (Gen. 39:9; 50:20). Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego trusted God to deliver them. Daniel centered his attention on pleasing God and prayed in violation of the new law (Dan. 3:16-18; 6:10, 20-22). 

Many other examples of faithful service could be cited (Heb. 11). These serve to show us the power of looking at one's own funeral before deciding what course of action to follow. If I want to be remembered as a good husband, good father, sacrificial servant and diligent soul-winner on the day of my funeral, I need to start acting like one today. After all, I have an appointment with death. I just do not know when its time will arrive (Heb. 9:27).

—Gary C. Hampton