No one was more surprised than Alfred Nobel when, some eight years before his death, a French newspaper inadvertently published his obituary. Surprise quickly turned to dismay as he read what had been written about him: “‘The merchant of death is dead… Dr Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.’ Nobel of course was the inventor of dynamite and other explosives, and made much of his wealth through the manufacture of armaments.
Deciding that this was not the way he wished to be remembered he left the bulk of his estate – some $250 million at today’s value – in trust to fund the prizes for which he is now most famous – the Peace Prize chief among them.
His story raises the interesting question of how we might be remembered when our lives come to an end. How can we leave a good legacy? When the apostle Paul left the church in Ephesus for the last time he reminded them of Jesus’ words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” and his friends wept as they said goodbye. Paul had devoted his life to them and made many sacrifices in order to be of service to them. His self-giving life left a precious legacy for which he has never been forgotten.