“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.” Hebrews 11: 8-12.
The Bible outlines the character traits that can build a lasting legacy. The Bible is also full of people who exemplified those traits. When we spend time in God’s word, we tap into their stories and have the opportunity to do what they did well and avoid some of their mistakes. Isaac Newton said that “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”
In Hebrews 11, we gain an insight into the historical giants on whose shoulders we are standing. The writer of Hebrews goes on for more than a chapter to expound on the qualities expressed in the lives of the great men and women of the Bible who exhibited great faith. It is called faith’s “hall of fame.” The great characters brought alive in the pages of the Bible formed the beginning of God’s story amongst His people. Today, we still have people in our lives who have left a legacy or continue to provide us with a foundation on which to serve God. Each of us are where we are today because of the influence and foundational work of others, whether it be parents, friends, pastors or teachers. In many ways they will help shape and mold the legacy we leave behind.
The question is, what does this all mean for us now as we look forward to the future? We can look forward with certainty and hope because we know that God has fulfilled His promises in the past. Each of the individuals personal to us and in Hebrews were ordinary people, called by an extraordinary God. It is through God, that their legacy was established. But along with the reassurance comes challenges. Each of us is called to live a faithful life and as a result leave a legacy.
The beginning of Hebrews 12 sums up our challenge very well: ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
When you recognize that your success comes at least in part from standing on the shoulders of others, it humbles you. You realize that you’re not isolated or indispensable. We all need other people. When you’re open to learning from others, you set yourself up for the kind of success that can lead to a lasting legacy.
- Read Hebrews 11: What’s the writer’s purpose in showcasing these believers of the past? How is that relevant to us?
- Why is it important to see your life as an opportunity to build a lasting legacy?
- On whose shoulders have you been standing? How has it impacted your life?
- What “one thing” did each of you decide to do this month rather than waiting for “someday”? What opportunity can you seize this week to leave a legacy that matters?