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What is a eulogy?

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Question: "What is a eulogy?"

A eulogy is a speech (or a piece of writing) that praises a person, event, or thing. Most often, we think of a eulogy as a speech at a funeral given to honor the deceased. Eulogy comes from the Greek eulogia, meaning “good speech” or “fine language.”

The Bible does not say anything specifically about eulogies. However, it has much to say about our speech. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Philippians 4:8 instructs, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Certainly, focusing on those things that are admirable about a person, event, or thing and then sharing those things is appropriate.

We are to “honor one another above [ourselves]” (Romans 12:10) and “show proper respect to everyone” (1 Peter 2:17). Surely, this makes the giving of a eulogy acceptable in God’s sight. Believers do not resort to flattery, but they should be people who encourage others, speak positively, and give honor where honor is due (see Romans 13:7).

The Bible does not say anything specific about acceptable funeral practices, of which eulogies are often a part. However, it does instruct us to “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). Speaking about the positive aspects of a deceased loved one can be a way to mourn. Life is a gift from God, and all people are His creation, worthy of honor and respect as being made in the image of God. Thus, honoring the deceased is a fitting and sound practice. Hebrews 11 could be considered a “eulogy” of sorts; that chapter is an excellent example of a writing in praise of those who have gone before us.

Eulogies can be a helpful way to honor people or commemorate an event. In giving a eulogy of any kind, it is important to ensure that it builds up the listeners or readers. It is also important to make sure that, while we speak or write in praise of the person or event, we always remember that the highest praise goes to God, the Creator and enabler of all.

Recommended Resource: Heaven by Randy Alcorn

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