Leave a legacy, not agony | Faith | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | July 16, 2017 5:00 am
Last Updated: July 12, 2017 at 10:16 am
According to the online dictionary, Merriam-Webster, a “legacy” is defined as something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past. Have you thought about what you would like to leave behind for your family, friends, and community to remember that is worth passing on to future generations?
Sometimes we live too much in the now instead of thinking about how we would like to be remembered. Are we going to leave our mark in a positive way to help somebody, or are we going to leave agonizing reflections for others? Our reputations continue to speak after we have died. The Word lets us know that we should leave a legacy.
Psalm 145:4 (ESV) states, “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.” Proverbs 13:22 (ESV) reminds us, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.”
However, leaving a legacy is not all about money or property. For the Christian, “The legacy you leave is the life you lead.” There are so many biblical examples of legacies worth emulating, but I will focus on just a few.
One of the most profound ones is the legacy of Jesus Christ. He taught us how to love our fellow man and not to expect anything in return. Jesus left a legacy of forgiveness, salvation, kindness, sincere humbleness, and perfect love.
Let’s take a look at Paul’s legacy which could have been a total life living of agony. However, Paul changed. Joe Stowell, president of Cornerstone University, who is also well known for his web ministry, Strength for the Journey, says this about Paul and his legacy:
“As Paul pondered the end of his life, he made three very simple statements about his legacy. He had ‘fought the good fight’ — standing firm as a spiritual warrior, clothed in the armor of God, faithfully defending the truth of the gospel. He had ‘finished the race ’— ensuring in the process that he was neither disqualified nor disheartened in the marathon of life and ministry. Most importantly, he had ‘kept the faith’—remaining true, committed, and loyal to the One who rescued him from sin and darkness.
“Notice that Paul’s brief statements here say nothing about the education he had received, the places he had traveled, the letters he had written, the people [to whom] he had preached, or the churches he had planted. He flat out wanted his legacy to be labeled as ‘faithful.’”
Another great biblical example of a legacy is that of Abel. “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks,” Hebrews 11:4 (ESV). It is by Abel’s faith, and not by his blood that his brother Cain shed of his, that he continues to speak. He testifies that God rewards an attitude of faith and obedience.
There were many biblical women who left great legacies as well. We can never forget Esther who risked everything and saved her nation. In Esther 4:16 she says, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”
Then there was Ruth, a Moabite, who married into the Hebrew family of Elimelech and Naomi, whom she met when they left Bethlehem and relocated to Moab due to a famine. Elimelech and his two sons died, leaving Naomi and her two daughters-in-law as widows. When Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem, Ruth decided to go with her, despite the fact that Orpah, Naomi’s other daughter-in-law, went back home. Ruth famously vowed to follow Naomi. Perhaps one of the best parts of Ruth’s story is the legacy God established through her. God brought her and Boaz together, and they conceived a child. That child would be in the lineage of Jesus, the Savior of the world. Ruth, a Moabite, was made part of the lineage of Christ.
As you can see, leaving a legacy for future generations is most definitely mandated by the Word. We should leave our children a heritage, not just an inheritance.
Proverbs 22:6 (KJV) affirms, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Dennis and Barbara Rainey explain in “Five Essentials to Leaving a Legacy that Will Outlive You,” as Christian parents, we must:
ν Fear the Lord and obey Him.
ν Recognize the world’s needs and respond with compassion and action.
ν Pray as a couple that God will use you to accomplish his purposes.
ν Help your mate be a better steward of his gifts and abilities.
ν Ask God to give your children a sense of purpose, direction, and mission.
As you ponder this important issue, what will you leave: a legacy worth emulating or reflections of agony for your offspring and others? Only you can decide this, but a strong faith in God is a must for leaving a worthwhile legacy.
Have a wonderfully blessed week, and never leave home without Him!
(Anna Bright is a minister and educator in Walterboro. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)