Updated: Apr 6, 2019
By definition, a legacy is money or property bequeathed in a will, or something handed down from the past by an ancestor or predecessor. Psalm 16:6 says, “The lines haven fallen to me in pleasant places; indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.” The basic translation of heritage in this passage is a possession received by legal claim & a lot assigned by God. I’ve received an inheritance twice in my life. In the world’s eyes, neither would be considered much on paper. But an inheritance is so much more than what ends up in your bank account!
Truth be told, we are presently living 2 legacies…one from the past & another that builds for the future. The first affects the second, one way or another. The past is either embraced & incorporated, or it’s denied. Let’s set aside the money component & level the playing field. Then, for all of us, legacy can be redefined as: 1) the personal influences that made you who you are, & 2) your personal ideals that you want to pass down. Whether positive or negative, a legacy is formed by the values that you saw modeled as priority #1.
2018 is rapidly coming to an end, time never to be recaptured. As you look back on the year, are your greatest legacy investments in the bank or in the lives of others? Believe me, I’m NOT poo-pooing money as a necessary resource for living. I am, however, addressing the emphasis we put on it. At the end of your life, it doesn’t matter to God how much you’re worth financially. You will stand before your Creator penniless. No matter what legal claim you leave to your family or friends, so will they. More important than how much you have of it, is your attitude toward it. If you truly love money, there will be problems. Because then, it likely comes before God &/or people. Loving it leads to evil—as God defines it... “some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith...” (I Timothy 6:10)
When I watch the temptation to succumb to overworking, to the use of technology as a substitute for parental interaction, & to the bad habit of investing mindless leftovers in relationships, I immediately think of I Timothy 5:8. Take note of the word meanings, from the Greek, in parentheses. “ But if anyone does not provide for (to comprehend, take thought, care beforehand) his own, & especially for those of his household (a person belonging to a certain household, or a believer to the Church), he has denied the faith ( belief, confidence in divine truths, especially the gospel), & is worse than an unbeliever (untrustworthy, an infidel, who disbelieves the Gospel of Christ).” I don’t think I’m out of line to say that there’s a whole lot more to provision than bringing home the paycheck. There’s more to provision than sitting in the same room on your phones, or gaming together, or watching a movie without connecting. There’s a need for a preplanned, unconditional time investment in relationships, to keep them growing, to keep them healthy & to keep them strong. Godly legacies are built intentionally, consistently, over the long haul.
I’ve realized a thing or two with the passing of years. There’s no perfect message-bearer (except God) but that shouldn’t stop you from giving it all you’ve got in creating a godly legacy. No matter your status, you ARE impacting someone for eternity. When I was a child, we were poor. But I didn’t know it. Like it says in Zechariah 4:10a, “For who has despised the day of small things?” Small investments add up over time, to make a big difference. At the time, I wouldn’t have been able to identify the investments that my parents made. It was just normal living to me. Now I see that my “small things” really weren’t small in the impact they made, or in the message behind them. Of primary importance was the family table, an almost obsolete event in most homes today. We ate every meal possible together, & our time together was always wrapped up in prayer & Bible reading. We could count on mealtimes, as simple as that sounds, & it brought a feeling of security. My parents honored my grandparents & watched over them, until death. They kept their word and modeled integrity in the smallest of opportunities, when no one was watching. I never had to doubt they would fudge on a commitment or change under pressure. Home was a safe place. They were teachable, affectionate, loved music, served others, & practically speaking, gave us the gift of time every day. Looking back, I can see that a lot of these values were passed down from my grandparents & my great-grandparents. Kids naturally pick up hypocrisy in little things. My parents didn’t lie. And they didn’t expect from me what they didn’t do themselves.
Times have changed, it’s true. But you can count on the fact that God hasn’t. (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8) He will guide you, step by step, hour by hour, day by day. Like it or not, we’re all legacy builders. The question is, what foundation are you laying? If you’ve been blessed with a godly (not to be confused with perfect) heritage, take the time to preserve it, & pass on what you’ve been given. If you didn’t have a secure beginning, you aren’t alone. Just remember that nothing is beyond God’s transforming, restoring power- in a life fully surrendered to Him. Friends, family, children…all are watching to see if you’re the real deal. Legacy matters!