If life was a relay race, and if you were one of the runners on the track, wouldn’t you run as fast as you can, to the best of your ability, within the time and distance you have, to pass the baton to the next runner in line?
Well, legacy is such. It is best when it is passed on.
In the Christian context, leaving a legacy behind means fulfilling the purpose(s) of God during your allotted time here on Earth, for your generation and possibly for generations to come, according to His sovereign will.
Biblical legacies for us to follow
There are many Biblical characters that have left outstanding legacies behind. Joseph’s legacy of being sold as a slave by his own brothers also extends to him becoming a Governor of Egypt. Abraham has a legacy of being a father of faith. King David served the purpose of God in His own generation by establishing the Lord’s Word, His Justice, and His Kingdom here on Earth. Jesus Christ, being the son of the most high God, left a remarkable legacy of conquering sin, death and hell through his resurrection to eternal life; so that whoever believes and follows Him will not perish but have eternal life.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 exemplifies an ideal legacy. It says, “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (KJV) Why does the writer call it ‘the whole duty’? In other words, could it mean ‘the whole purpose of a man, including all people? When we rephrase that sentence, it could be something like this: “The whole purpose of mankind is to fear God and to do what He wants us to do, nothing more and nothing less”.
When you study world history, there are plenty of human beings who have lived sacrificial lives, leaving behind legacies to follow for many generations after them. But, what is the difference between their legacy and a godly legacy? Have all of them fulfilled the purposes for which they were originally created or called to fulfill? The answer is surely “No.”
A legacy of godly obedience
The purpose of life for every human being comes from God. It is not self-made. What you do is solely accounted to you. There is no system of proxy for your life. Whether you mess with it or produce meaning from it is your responsibility. Let’s face it: we’ve got to fulfill the purpose for which we were created in the first place. God alone knows the blueprint of our lives. The more we delay and disobey, the less of a godly legacy we will leave behind.
As followers of Christ, leaving a godly legacy is important. As we read on further, we will see the kind of godly legacy we can think about as an individual, as married couples and as parents.
As an individual, what legacy can you leave behind?
A legacy of fearing God and doing His will is every individual’s protocol. Love the Lord with all that you have. When you love God sincerely, you may end up spontaneously doing all that He wants you to do. When you love God, you will fear Him and obey His words. It becomes easier for you to love people as well. Give Him the best. The only way you can know Him is to spend time with Him. Enjoy the choices God allows you to make in life. Be thankful to Him for everything.
It’s no longer a secret that people observe the way you live your life and make their judgments based on that. Create opportunities to direct people to God, who is the source of all life. Help your fellow human beings to become better stewards of their gifts and abilities. Trust me, the legacy you leave behind with God will be truly amazing and eternally rewarding.
As a married couple, what legacy can you leave behind?
God works His ways through the family in an unimaginable fashion. The fact is – there are no perfect couples; at least not in the context of marriage. However, with the imperfections of the husband and the wife, it is still possible to live in harmony within a relationship. Marriage represents the relationship Jesus shares with His Church, in the context of him being the bridegroom and His church being the bride. It is important to love your spouse as Christ loves the church. When you love God uprightly, He will inspire and help you to love your spouse uprightly. In difficult times and in merry times, respect your spouse and honor God.
Placing God above all else within your family will bring blessings beyond our imagination. Help your spouse recognize what God has for him/her in this life. If both of you have different callings to serve God, it is recommended that you compliment and pray for each other’s calling and ministry. Stand with each other in prayer and genuine love. That is a legacy that you can leave behind as a family.
As parents, what legacy can you leave behind?
Children look up to you as their role models. They observe and imitate what you are and they love to see you as their examples. Set the example of the character that you want them to carry or practice throughout their lives. The best example of this is Jesus. Place before them the benefits of obedience and the consequences of disobedience. The values you plant in them are the ones they will nurture and pass on to their children when they are older. Respect them as much as you discipline them. Either extremes of love or discipline can be an unwise method for nurturing your child. Teach your children to make appropriate choices. Above all, seek God to inculcate a healthy balance in your relationship with your children.
When you learn to run to God for everything, your children may do the same when they grow older. Pray that God will give your children a sense of purpose, direction, and mission. Leave a godly legacy that your children can absorb and pass on to their children.
When we analyse the apostle Paul’s legacy in the New Testament, we see three powerful statements that he makes at the end of his discipleship journey – “fought the good fight,” “finished the race,” and “kept the faith.” What an excellent testimony to talk about. What an admirable heritage to pass on. The best legacy is when God acknowledges you and says “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I doubt if we can find anything better than this.
Our opportunity to leave behind a godly legacy is already one day shorter than it was yesterday. Aren’t we all running out of time? Recognize the world’s need for compassion and allow God to lead you in His ways.