Can you imagine Abraham Lincoln constructing the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C. during his lifetime? Seems a little narcissistic to set up a memorial to yourself. How many would come to the dedication service?
Absalom is the epitome of a self-focused individual and this is the opposite of what we need to build the true memorial. You can choose to construct a memorial with physical hands, but like the poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, wrote about Ramses, the Pharaoh of Egypt:
OzymandiasI met a traveller from an antique landWho said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stoneStand in the desert… near them, on the sand,Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,Tell that its sculptor well those passions readWhich yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;And on the pedestal these words appear:‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings;Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’Nothing beside remains. Round the decayOf that colossal wreck, boundless and bareThe lone and level sands stretch far away.
When we build our own memorials, they deteriorate. They lose their relevance. These memorials become “trunkless legs of stone” in the desert. The echoes of greatness are hollow. Nebuchadnezzar had his statue, but he had to demand worship.
Are you consumed with leaving a memorial here on earth that you are not taking the time to be a servant? Are you in desperation raising up memorials and calling them after your name so that you are not sacrificially helping those around you? The alternative is to labor faithfully and let God keep His records. When Christ walked this earth, was he busy raising up a monument to himself while he was on earth? He was focused on touching lives around him. He embraced the grotesque leper. He showed mercy to the adulterous woman. He sustained the 5,000 starving followers. He even gave up his time to mourn John the Baptist’s death for the crowd. If we live like Christ, we will build a monument which endures throughout eternity. It’s a memorial which magnifies the name of God and declares His glory.
“For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 14:11).
Absalom wanted to keep his name in remembrance, but our life must be consumed with keeping HIS name in remembrance.