WHATS WILL YOUR LEGACY BE?
Presidents speak of leaving a “legacy” when their term is done. You hear expressions like: “President Debola’s legacy is…” or “What will President Debola’s legacy be?” These expressions are referring to the impact that their presidency will have upon future generations. How about you? What do you want your legacy to be, not in man’s eyes, but in God’s? What spiritual blessings do you want to leave in the lives of your heirs?
Today let’s speak to you about spiritual legacy, spiritual inheritance, for those who come after us. Passing on to the next generations a legacy with eternal value is far more important than a temporal inheritance of money and property. And there are no estate taxes on these legacies!
Proverbs 13:22 A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children…
•• Your children and grandchildren should be target #1 for your legacy.
• A wise pastor once said, “My two highest priorities are serving the Lord and serving my family.”
Parents, the seemingly never-ending effort pays off. The single most important legacy you can leave is your children serving the Lord and thereby affecting their generation and thereafter. And the quality of your life in Christ will be one of the major influences upon them.
1 Timothy 4:8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
•• Godly living has eternal value, it has impact on the “life to come”.
Israel knew that he was dying. He surrounded himself with his children and blessed them. He touched them. He left them words. Words of blessing. I think there are too many today who rarely if ever hear words of blessing and receive touches of blessing. Let’s be those who bless others. There was a lot wrong in this extended family we have been following. But give them credit for this: they knew how to bless one another. That covers a multitude of sins. The only way to break the cycle of non-blessing is to begin blessing others. To bless others is to leave a lasting legacy.
What legacy will we leave to the next generation? What do you want to leave? Don’t just think of biological children. Jesus didn’t have children in that sense, but he had children in a much greater sense. Every one of us, single or married, gets to leave a legacy. Think of the legacy Jesus left: love for God, a vision for the world, the centrality of worship, lives of good deeds, the assurance of eternal life. What will our legacy be? We all get to leave one and we will, whether by intention of default. Let’s do it by intention, not default.
Many people want to leave material legacies. Like a lot of money. Do you know what that often leaves the children? Fighting in court, bitterness over who got what, and growing alienation from one another. Some want to leave the legacy of much property and lavish homes. Do you know what that often leaves the children? Fighting in court, bitterness over who got what, and growing alienation from one another. Some people want to leave the legacy of lots of expensive toys. Do you know what that often leaves the children? Fighting in court, bitterness over who got what, and growing alienation from one another. Some people want to leave behind the legacy of great personal achievement. Do you know what that often leaves the children? Children wondering why if their parent was so great, they didn’t even know their parent.
We can do better than that. Let’s live so as to leave lasting legacies that lift people and lighten the world. Let’s leave life. Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10.) Let’s leave a love of life, but not a holding onto life. Our life is found in Jesus. Let’s leave behind a love of the gift of life, grounded in the life Jesus gives to us.
Let’s leave openness. Openness to God. Openness to neighbor. Openness to the stranger and the one who is different. Openness to need. Openness to the new. Openness to the future. Many people are seeing this as a fearful time. Terrorism has people scared to death. Disasters natural and unnatural unnerve us. Jesus said we are not to live in fear. I am not. This is no time to live in fear. Jesus continually told us not to be afraid. As he was preparing to leave us he said, “I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” Let’s leave a legacy of openness to God and life.
Let’s leave vision. Proverbs 29:18 reminds us that “where there is no vision, the people perish.” I just can’t say enough about the need for seeing God’s visions and dreaming God’s dreams. Change happens when people see visions of a better present and a better future. God calls us to dream his dreams and see his visions. Let’s leave a legacy of vision that empowers people to strive for God’s will.
Let’s leave enthusiasm. You remember that enthusiasm literally means being in God. It is not being bubbly all the time. Enthusiasm is living our lives in God’s life. It is being in Christ. It is seeking to be filled with the Holy Spirit in ever-growing ways. It is orienting our daily lives around God’s eternal majesty. It is seeing ourselves as Christ’s ambassadors in everything we do.
If we live to leave a legacy of life for those who follow, and leave openness to all God is and is doing, and leave vision for what God calls us to be and to do, and leave enthusiasm as how we live, we will have left behind L-O-V-E. We will have left behind that cardinal virtue of all the Christian virtues, Love. When asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus answered: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-40.)
The Apostle Paul left a lasting legacy. He died fully engaged in living for God. Here are the last words Paul leaves us: “I’m about to die, my life an offering on God’s altar. This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting—God’s applause! Depend on it, he’s an honest judge. He’ll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for his coming.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8, in “The Message.”)
Jesus left his closest friends with a legacy that included this little task: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
What will our legacy be? Will be seek to leave the next generation some money, some toys, or values that endure throughout all eternity? Values like life in all its fullness, openness to all that God is doing, vision for the glory of God, and enthusiasm in serving God. That spells love, love that never fails, never quits, never falls short.
As i said earlier, A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children… (Proverbs 13:22). You can leave an enduring legacy in many ways:
• Influencing your children and grandchildren to know and serve the Lord
• Living a godly life every waking hour
• Building your life and those whom you influence upon the eternal word of God
• Letting your good deeds and the light-giving effect of living your Christian faith shine forth so as to touch the lives of those around you
• Winning souls to the Lord
• Touching the lives of those younger, even much younger, than you with the wisdom the years have given you. Target some young people.
• Love your local church, and do everything in your power to make it a beacon of truth and blessing to your community.