What Kind Of Legacy Are You Leaving Behind?

“As the time of King David’s death approached, he gave this charge to his son Solomon: “I am going where everyone on earth must someday go. Take courage and be a man. Observe the requirements of the Lord your God, and follow all his ways. Keep the decrees, commands, regulations, and laws written in the Law of Moses so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you go. If you do this, then the Lord will keep the promise he made to me. He told me, ‘If your descendants live as they should and follow me faithfully with all their heart and soul, one of them will always sit on the throne of Israel.’ – 1 Kings 2:1-4.

As we walk through life, we make an impression on the people around us–we leave footprints where we walk. The footprints that we make in life are our legacy. A legacy is inevitable. You will pass things down to the next generation. Even if you don’t have much materially to leave behind, you will instill character traits, talents, hobbies, skills, and more in your children and grandchildren. But how valuable will your legacy be? 

In 1 Kings 2:1-4, David is about to die.  Solomon was the son of David who would inherit the throne from his father. David’s life was marked by sin and poor decisions he made as a king. As he gets ready to pass the baton of leadership on to Solomon, he encourages his son not to make some of the same mistakes he had made. Despite his failures, David was still a man after God’s own heart. In this text, David passes on words of godly wisdom to his son. History would prove his words to be wise. David closes his final talk with his son by reminding him that if he does all of these things, he will prosper, and one of his descendants will always sit on the throne.

Nobody who leaves a great legacy lives a selfish life. Jesus told us that it is more blessed to give than to receive. The world preaches a different message, but if you understand your eternal inheritance, you will be more generous with your earthly inheritance. Your life will be about serving others with your time, talents, and treasures. He wants us to invest in others for His and their sake.

Be a blessing to others this week. Has a colleague confided that she feels overwhelmed and grieved by her current circumstances? Invite him for coffee and share where you find hope when life is hard. Do you have a friend who is wrestling with her faith? Be a safe space for her to talk through her struggles, gently guiding her to seek out our heavenly Father. Maybe a family member decided that church and God “just isn’t for them.” Prayerfully consider writing them a note of encouragement, letting them know they are always welcome in the Lord’s house.

The greatest legacy ever left on this earth started about two thousand years ago and still lives on today.  Jesus came to this earth and lived a life worthy of praise. His legacy brought freedom and redemption for all the generations to come. Your legacy can change lives, it can change the course of future events, and it can even change the world.  

Discussion Questions:

  1. What would you list as the characteristics of a lasting legacy?
  2. Read 2 Timothy 4:1-8: Spend a few minutes thinking about the legacy you would like to leave.
  3. What are some changes that need to take place today to move you back toward a legacy of loving God and loving others?

Have The Courage Of Your Convictions

“One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” – Romans 14:5-8.

Dictionaries usually define conviction as a fixed or strong belief. Conviction is really much more than that. Your convictions include your values, commitments and motivations. Many of us, however, live our lives by default or by personal preferences. Default living means that we steer our lives by falling in line with the culture and expectations around us. We are carried along with the current, figuring it is easier to just go with the flow.

Then over time we transition into personal preferences mode. Personal preferences include: What do I like, and want, and choose to name a few. Preferences are often based on the mood we are in. They become rules we live our lives by. But as we grow as Christians we come to the realization that God wants us to step out of the flow, to lay down our reactions, and to live by conviction.

To live by conviction requires that we recognize objective truth as God defines it. Reading the Bible will illuminate the convictions, the core issues of life, in morals, personal standards, lifestyle choices, spirituality, family, and faith. These convictions should guide our life. Jesus radically lived by conviction. A default life could never have led to the cross; a personal preferences life could never have saved others. Jesus lived first with the conviction of His own identity, choosing to lay aside social norms and expectations for the sake of following God’s path. Jesus’ convictions were so strong that He could not be swayed, baited, or tricked, no matter how hard His enemies tried.

If your life is going to make an impact on others, they can’t merely hear our convictions spoken; they must see our convictions lived. When we live a faithful, consistent example of the things we believe, people will seek us out and invite us to share our convictions with them.  Remember that faith without works is dead, as James reminds us; what we do not live, we do not really believe.

So whatever I do I do it for the Lord. If I forgive someone who has hurt me, I do it because I believe it honors God. I don’t cheat on that test because everybody else did, because I believe it honors my Lord. If I serve every week in the church, I do it because I believe it honors my Lord. 

Living by conviction is hard. It will challenge you. It requires reexamination and deliberation. But, it will infuse your life with power and purpose and leave a lasting legacy.

Discussion Questions

  1. Think about your walk with Jesus, and make a list of the convictions you now hold. Are your convictions weak on any major issues?
  2. How have you seen your convictions affect decisions you’ve made? Is there a time when you made a decision that was not based on your convictions?
  3. On what issues do you need to take a stand based on your convictions?

Serve With Passion

“learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” – Isaiah 1:17.

The church was once the workshop for the greatest art the world has ever known. Wander through an ancient cathedral. Rest in front of a Renaissance painting. Listen to a 19th century hymn. All of these are amazing feats of art inspired from a passion to lead creation toward its Creator. Nothing great is ever accomplished in life without passion. Nothing great is ever sustained in life without passion.

Passion is what energizes life. Passion gives you a reason to get up in the morning and say, “I’m going to do something with my life today.” Without passion life becomes routine, even dull. We all need passion in our lives. The question is what are we passionate about? And secondly, is what we are passionate about going to leave a legacy?

In Matthew 22: 35, a lawyer poses a question to Jesus. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” We have talked about the great commandment many times. Jesus said in verse 37 (MSG): “Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’” God is saying I want you to put some muscle into it, put some energy, put some emotion into your relationship with Me. Don’t be half-hearted. If we’re going to follow Jesus, we want you to live passionately.”

Romans 12:1 says, ”Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor.” Notice the word “keep.” It is not automatic, it is a choice.  It has nothing to do with either your personality or your age. There are people who have been Christians a very long time that are passionate and there are new Christians equally as passionate. What most passionate Christians have in common is an intense desire to serve others and to serve God. 

It is one thing to talk about serving others and it is another thing to take action. Passion equates into action. This year let me encourage you to define your goals for the year. Because goals convert vision into energy. The first thing to do is be specific. Rather than say that you want to serve, say you want to serve in the Kids programs on the Friday Easter services.   

There is a quote that goes something like this: We are dying when we have nothing worth living for. And we don’t really start living until we find something worth dying for.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is one need that you are personally passionate about meeting in people?
  2. What are some of the common passions that we share in helping the community around us?
  3. What are your abilities and gifts that could help make a difference in the lives of people around you?
  4. Where do you have experience in helping to make a difference in people’s lives?

Speak With Integrity

“Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts. Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends. Those who despise flagrant sinners, and honor the faithful followers of the Lord, and keep their promises even when it hurts.Those who lend money without charging interest, and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent. – Psalm 15 (NLT).

Psalm 15 starts with Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts.” David ends the Psalm with a statement that should interest all of us:   

“Such people will stand firm forever.”

Don’t you want to stand firm forever for your life? Wouldn’t we all like to live with a consistency that does not waver or fade? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have people stand up at our funeral and testify to our consistent and godly character? Our integrity? Who wouldn’t want to have people testify that they saw Jesus in the way you lived your life?

What are the core characteristics of integrity? Some of them include speaking the truth, loving our neighbors, keeping our word and doing what we say we will do. In short, a Christian has integrity – and shows that integrity by being truthful, loving, honoring, and trustworthy.   

In verse 3 we read “Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts.” This is integrity. It is the result of having all the other characteristics listed in Psalm 15. It is the evidence, and the fruit of all the other traits. You can’t be a person of integrity, if you are not doing these things.

The Psalmist also points out that even with the character traits that contribute to a lasting legacy, it does not guarantee that we will not have problems and challenges in our life. However, the person of integrity can live without regret by having a clear path to follow. A person of integrity will be respected and a person people will value in difficult times in their lives.

So here is the question: Do others view you as a person of integrity? Would people who read this passage think of you as an example of the kind of person David is describing? I encourage you to use this Psalm as a guide for your own prayers. Take these characteristics one by one and ask God to reveal where you are falling short. Take aim at those areas of weakness. Make them a matter of prayer, and then work on them with the help of the Holy Spirit.   

God calls us to be as diligent about developing godly integrity regardless of our season of life we are currently in. Godly integrity will not come to us naturally. We must pursue it and if we do, then it will be the foundation of our legacy. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. How would you define integrity? 
  2. Integrity is giving your word and keeping it. Agree or disagree?
  3. Titus 2:7 (NLT) says, “And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.”  Can your integrity serve as an example and contribute to your legacy? If so, how?
  4. What steps can you take this week to work towards godly integrity?

Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants

“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.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Hebrews 11: What’s the writer’s purpose in showcasing these believers of the past? How is that relevant to us? 
  2. Why is it important to see your life as an opportunity to build a lasting legacy?
  3. On whose shoulders have you been standing? How has it impacted your life?
  4. 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? 

Outlive Your Life

“When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son. “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go and that the Lord may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’ – 1 Kings 2:1-4.

The life you live is the legacy you leave. There are many people who’s legacy will impact our lives, and more often than not, these great influences have no idea of the depth their impact has had upon us. We too have an opportunity to deeply impact others, to live a life that lasts. The question is whether we are pursuing or are we fleeing from our legacy. Each day is an opportunity to develop our story, to define our legacy, and to live our passion. We start asking questions like “what do I want my children to remember about me?” Or “when I am gone, what do I want people to say about my life as a Christian?” 

An interesting passage on this subject is found in 1 Kings 2:1-4.  In this passage, King David is about to die.  He is handing the kingdom over to his son Solomon. David is about to tell Solomon how to live a life that is worth living. This is an interesting passage for many reasons.  For one, this is not the typical story we talk about when it comes to David. We talk about his days as a shepherd boy and we talk about his battle with Goliath. We talk about his friendship with Jonathan, his conflict with his son Absalom and his sin with Bathsheba. But, we rarely talk about the end of his life. That is unfortunate, because I think there is a lot that we can take away from this passage on the subject of legacy. 

Most think people who leave a legacy are those above approach, those who have been able to rise above the problems that plague the rest of us. David, however, did not model perfection in his life. David sinned, but when he did, he always returned to God. We see in 1 Kings 2:2 that David tells his son to be strong, and by strong he meant a total reliance and dependence on God. In other words, we are made strong through our weakness.   

David also tells Solomon to observe what the Lord requires by keeping His law. Memorizing Scripture is an admirable task, but it is more than checking off a spiritual checklist. Once we memorize the scripture, it is time to apply it to our lives so that we might grow as a model of consistency. David closes his final talk with his son by reminding him that if he does all of these things, he will prosper and all of his descendants after him will have a legacy of consistent faithfulness to the Lord.

That’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it?  Leaving those that come behind me a model of consistent, if not perfect, service to our Lord.  I would want people to say that I loved Jesus more than anything else on earth, and because I did, I was able to love my wife, children, family, friends, even strangers more completely. Life is such a series of short interactions with people, and for some, I’m the only glimpse of Jesus that they will ever see.  That tells me that I need to make my short moments count with all people. That’s how you build a legacy that lasts.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Is there someone who has inspired you through their legacy?
  2. What would you list as the characteristics of a lasting legacy?
  3. Read 2 Timothy 4:1-8: Spend a few minutes thinking about the legacy you would like to leave. How does that compare to Paul’s desired legacy expressed in this passage of scripture?
  4. What type of legacy will the current choices and priorities of your life lead to?
  5. What are some changes that need to take place today to move you back toward a legacy of faithful service to God?

It’s Your Funeral

“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 15:50-57.

Imagine if you could attend your own funeral. I don’t want you to freak out. Just bear with me and imagine that you are about to attend your own funeral. The funeral is held in a location large enough to seat all your friends, your family, your business associates, your neighbors, your college roommate, in fact, anyone and everyone to whom you are important and who is important to you. 

The setting is solemn. The lighting is subdued. People are respectfully dressed. People are talking quietly in small cliques all over the room. Every foot of available space is filled with flowers and floral arrangements sent from friends and loved ones in love and sympathy. At the front of the room is a table, that includes several pictures of you with scented candles casting a glow on each photo. A memorial guest book is signed by all the people who came to pay their respects.   

At the front of the room is a beautiful solid hardwood casket. The wood veneer is stunning. You are lying in the casket. But you are also in the audience as the service starts. Everywhere you look there are sad people wiping away their tears. 

Key people in your life, close friends and family are given 3 minutes to speak whatever is on their heart. You pull out a pad of paper and are ready to take notes. You are wondering what they are going say. You have questions such as: What did they most appreciate about me? Or what did my life mean to them? What impact did it have? What are they missing or what have they lost when you passed?

Would you be satisfied with your answers? Would the answers suggest regret? Would the answers indicate that you didn’t live your life with the end in mind? Would you wish you had more time to heal old wounds? Did you contribute to the Kingdom? Did you love others as yourself? Were you giving? 

We all will have some regrets or some things we wanted to do differently when we die.  But the good news is that we can still change the outcome. You can take the steps necessary to begin shaping your eulogy—and the outcome of your life—now. It may mean healing old wounds with a relative. We may be to love more or be more generous. Whatever is required, it is worth the effort to contribute to the Kingdom of God by leading your life with the end in mind.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Is it practical to focus on eternity rather than the here and now?
  2. How much does your life impact others?
  3. Our choices will determine where we end up. How have you seen good or bad choices influence where you are today? Why do you think you made those choices?
  4. Pray and ask God to help you live your life with the end in mind.