Although spoken by a fictional character (based on the real Roman General Maximus Decimus Meridius) in the movie Gladiator, these words summarize a sobering truth about life and the eternal implications and dimensions of our actions. This wisdom also embodies the Christian teaching that what we do in this life reflects whether we truly believe in and follow Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. As Christ cautioned, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
This phrase reminded me of the Communion Hymn that Orthodox Christian sometimes sing during Liturgy. “The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance. He shall not fear evil tidings.” Based on Psalm 112:6-7, this hymn expresses the same timeless truth.
More wisdom from Christ also come to mind. “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26) “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10). The Lord’s preaching reflects the same eternal dimensions of our conduct in this life.
Gladiator presents us with other important life lessons in the conduct of General Maximus. Courage, honor, integrity, loyalty, concern and love for others, self-sacrifice, faithfulness, and strong love for family, are all essential character traits that all Christians, especially leaders, preachers, and teachers, must strive to emulate. All these important attributes can help us live a virtuous life that truly “echoes in eternity.”