Legacy. What is yours to your children and your grandchildren? When they remember you long after you are gone, will they remember someone who poured him or herself out for Christ and His purposes, or will they remember you running after “broken cisterns [wells] that can hold no water?” (Jeremiah 2:13c)
“For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 12:13)
So what kind of legacy should we be building? We all have an incredible gift from God: opportunity. He gives us one lifetime—the duration of which none of us knows—during which He allows us to take the time and gifts He gives us and do something with it. Some erroneously consider life itself a gift, yet it isn’t, because life isn’t ours to do with as we see fit. The gift is the opportunity to do something for Christ with our lives. And while many of us spend our lives establishing various legacies—building our respective earthly kingdoms of power, wealth, influence or fame—the only legacy that is truly worth building is walking with our Lord and Savior and the furtherance of His kingdom. The old saying is really true, “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”
But when should we begin building this legacy? Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, admonishes, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’” (Ecclesiastes 12:1) Jesus told a parable explaining that God accepts everyone who comes to Him, regardless of how early or late. Yet it is far better to be faithful to Him your entire life once you recognize your obligation to Him, rather than fritter the years away in sinful refusal planning to eventually give in–because you truly do not know if you will have another day to do so: “…Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…” (Hebrews 3:7-8)
So why should we be building a godly legacy? Jesus advises, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20) Yet there is a reason—“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21) The reason we are to build a legacy in God’s kingdom is not only so our children and children’s children would be blessed, but also because it is whatever we pour ourselves into that we truly love.
But what will this legacy look like? That will differ according to each individual. Billy Graham’s legacy will not look the same as Mother Theresa’s legacy, which will not look the same as a Christian pastor’s or missionary’s legacy, which will not look the same as the legacy of any one of the many individual people silently and obediently working for God’s kingdom, perhaps completely unnoticed by society, but beloved by their Lord and Master. The important thing is not that we achieve popular acclaim, but that upon arriving at our eternal home we hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 23:25a)
As we study God’s Word, the Bible, we understand what God is like better and are better able to reflect who He is to others. God’s heart is that people become like Christ–“…until Christ is formed in you” (Galatians 4:19)–and we know that “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love,” (1 John 4:8) so we know that we are to love. Love can show itself in mercy for the physical well-being of others or concern for their eternal destinies, usually both.
Yet while our legacy is a life of obedient pouring out of ourselves in obedience to our Lord, the individual ways we build them will be different because Christ’s Spirit takes His Word and moves us to serve Him in differing capacities. We serve as God gives us opportunity in life, as people cross our path, as we see something that needs doing and do it. The important thing is to—as the old Michael Jordon commercial said—“Just do it.” Many times we contemplate and muse over simple things that merely need to be done. Do you see a need? Fill it. Do you see another need? Do that too. Never leave a good thing undone that needs doing. This is how God accomplishes much—by allowing His people to see certain needs and having them do it.
So what should I do? Commit yourself today—whether you are young or old—to spending your life pouring yourself out for others through Christ, building a legacy “in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” You will never regret it!
Help me work for the treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. Use my life to build a legacy that will bless and draw those who come after me to Yourself. In Jesus’ name, Amen.