The Greek historian Herodotus tells the story of an encounter between Croesus, the fantastically wealthy king of Lydia, and the Athenian sage and lawmaker, Solon. Pointing to his wealth and power, Croesus asked Solon if he considered him to be blessed. Solon's laconic response was simple: 'Count no man blessed until he is dead.' Years later, having been stripped of his earthly power and wealth by the Persians, Solon's words came back to haunt the former monarch with something of a vengeance.Read the rest.
I first read that passage nearly thirty years ago while polishing my Greek for the Cambridge Common Entrance Exam. It haunted me then and it still haunts me now. Solon's point is obvious and powerful: one cannot assess a man's life until it is over, until he is dead and in the grave. Only then can one know if he really did have a happy life.
There would seem to be an application there to the Christian church: one cannot truly assess a Christian leader until one can see clearly what his legacy is. That is sobering to anyone who is a minister, from the pastor of a small church to the international statesman.
Monday, December 03, 2012