I’ve had legacy on my mind a lot lately. When we think of legacy, we usually think about wealth or property that is passed on to the next generation. But the legacy I’m thinking about is the imprint we leave on others’ lives.
I was not so aware of the changes in my dad when he met Jesus. He had never been a drinker or gambler. He had never been an angry man or selfish or proud. But he would have said God had done a good work in his life.
With my Dad’s birthday and Memorial Day being so recent, I’ve been pondering my dad’s legacy. My dad didn’t have an easy life. His father was an alcoholic, he lived through the Great Depression and then served in the army in Asia during WWII. He went to art school after the war and worked in commercial art for more than 50 years.
The legacy from my dad was a good example of faithfulness, gentleness, and thoughtfulness of others. A tender heart and listening ear. My dad took the lessons he learned from the Bible and lived them before us all. Everyone who knew my dad was blessed because of his touch on their life.
So, how do we leave a good legacy? That’s been the point of my pondering.
Our beginning doesn’t have to determine our ending. God wants to make every life a masterpiece of His redemption. We all have messy backgrounds. We are all born sinners and are raised by sinners. Whether our sin was outward and hurtful to others or inward and self-serving, sin always damages. No matter how badly we were treated or how badly we behaved, God can change our legacy.
Before we were even conceived, God had a plan for our lives. He had good works planned for us to do. He didn’t expect us to figure them out on our own or do them on our own. He began over-seeing our lives and drawing us to Himself from our birth.
He brings us to the point of salvation and gives us the gift of eternal life. It is a gift, but it is a gift that is meant to be developed.
The Message Bible helps us see what Paul was saying to the Philippians and what God is saying to us.
Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.
Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.
Philippians 2:13-16 —-The Message Bible
We cannot positively influence others for Jesus when we are full of ourselves and bent on pride and selfishness. We only spread God’s love and mercy as we allow Him to change us and give us a heart for the hurting.
His work in our lives is on-going. We will never be completely clean and polished in this life. We will always need to open our lives to God and allow Him to make something beautiful of our lives.
The legacy we want to leave behind is a story of a life yielded to God. We want our attitudes, decisions, and desires to match His will and plan for our life. We want to be willing to give our all and trust God with the outcome. Others see the way we live before them, the way we treat them, and what we teach them. May this legacy draw them closer to Christ and His will and purpose for them.