Then Abraham bowed himself down before the people of the land; and he spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, saying, "If you will give it, please hear me. I will give you money for the field; take it from me and I will bury my dead there."
Guarding the Golden Years
Before and after the Civil War, the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher was the most famous preacher in America. He drew crowds of thousands to his church in Brooklyn each week. He reportedly earned the princely sum of $40,000 per year. Delighting in his treasures, Beecher enjoyed carrying with him uncut gems and openly endorsed commercial products ranging from soap to watches. Then in 1874, Beecher's friend and protege, Theodore Tilton, accused the preacher of seducing his wife. His trial was such an attraction that admission tickets were sold to the public. The jury failed to reach a verdict, but Beecher's influence and popularity continued undiminished for another 13 years until his death.
What a contrast this is with the closing days of Abraham's life. While he had faltered in his earlier years, failing to fully trust the Lord, he spent his latter days as a shining example of a man who had total faith in God. Even in the midst of his grief, as he prepared to bury his beloved Sarah, he maintained his integrity. Confronted with the exorbitant request for 400 shekels of silver for a plot of ground, he courteously conceded. Refusing to lower himself to the level of a Bedouin huckster, he demonstrated the graciousness of a man who had learned to put his life in God's hands.
Great Christians are not great because of what they say; they're great because of what they do. And what they do during their darkest days is the best indicator of their integrity.
The latter years of every Christian should be our best. A good start is a wonderful thing, but a good finish is even better.
Make sure your golden years are more than gold-plated.