What legacy are you leaving?
Like it or not, like yourself or not, like your surroundings or not, we’re all leaving something behind for others to discover, and in time for others to follow. Have you ever thought about what you’re leaving behind as a result of what you have made a priority in your life in general, or even in your life today?
There is a common refrain that goes something like this:
“Yesterday is gone, tomorrow never comes, yet today is upon us”
It’s a simple reminder of the fact that the real impact our lives have upon others is directly related to what we find ourselves doing in the present- that all that matters is what we are preoccupied with now- in the present place in time we find ourselves. The above refrain is echoed in many Bible passages like these below:
“This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” [Psalms 118:24]
“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” [Matthew 6:34]
“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” [Hebrews 3:13]
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” [James 4:13, 14]
In a similar vein as the title to this post is another seemingly similar statement:
“How can I be remembered after I die?” Now may I ask you, Is this actually saying the same thing as “What legacy are you leaving?” No it is not. One statement is pondering the potential impact of our lives in others after we pass while the other is a selfish way of making sure we’re never forgotten after we die.
As I was researching for this article I came upon another article called, “How to be remembered after you die” which listed these potential ways/steps:
- Get published
- Become a politician
- Invent something
- Excel at a skill or talent
- Start something
- Gift something
Think these over for a minute. Would you admit that despite the pursuit of any of these things, that being remembered from them would be an adequate legacy for one claiming to be a Christian? In other words, would you be satisfied if as a Christian you were remembered by others as one who:
- Wrote a book or a series of books (even if based upon God)
- Ran for public office (when the Bible speaks of a higher calling in being ambassadors for Christ)
- Inventing something intellectual or mechanical to which you were given credit
- Being the worlds most renown sports figure in a particular “game”
- As being a renown philanthropist (a financially generous person)
- As starting something (a successful business, organization or “ministry”)
Once again, “Would you be satisfied if as a Christian if you were remembered by any of the six reasons above?”
If your answer is “yes,” I assure you that you have entirely failed to realize what God Himself has called every Christian to make a priority in their lives according to the Bible itself. That priority cannot be you, anything you create, anything you do or anything at all- that priority must be HIM!
Although most people would not accept this fact, all of the above “reasons for remembrance” actually leave little to no benefit spiritually speaking after one has left this world. All of them steer people’s attention at least partially if not entirely upon the deceased individual and not upon Jesus Himself.
Do you realize that despite Jesus-
“who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, (He set aside many of His divine privileges) but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” [Philippians 2:6-8]
Immediately preceding the above verse is this:
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,” which relates directly to the previous verses that speak of doing nothing selfishly or for one’s interests alone but for the interests of others. (verse 3, 4) This equates to being “obedient” as it states in verse 12 where it says of these believers what we could only dream of today:
“So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (verses 12, 13)
In Philippians 2:1, 2 we find specific commands but one especially noteworthy one: “intent on one purpose.” This purpose is to be carried out with the proper attitude (verse 5), appropriate actions (verse 3, 4), necessary reverence (verse 12, 13), ongoing contentment (verse 14), and as a result “appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life.” (verses 15, 16). Then note the subtle command for them to be “poured out for others” even as he was for them when Paul says;
“You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me” (verse 18)
The one purpose
The one purpose to which they were called was for the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even as today, and despite what so many claim around us, the proclamation of Christ suffers because people who claim Him do not “always obey” in the manner this chapter prescribes. Even Paul, sharing herein what so many have claimed is a letter based upon joy makes this startling revelation and sad refrain;
“For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare” And why is this?
“For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus” [Philippians 2:20, 21]
I want to post a comment I made recently again because it fits perfectly herein:
“God isn’t looking for men who will use His name to do His work their own way. He’s looking for men who will die to their own way that He might use them”
Seeing is believing (the wrong things)
If we want to discover the impression of others lives we only need to look for their footprints upon society. For example, what are the “fruits” of those who:
- Write self-titled books one after another (they may promote some truth, but they also promote themselves)
- Get involved in local governments where they can only attempt to pass laws that legislate morality and which forbid one to preach the gospel.
- Invent something that makes our lives “easier” or more convenient.
- Give monies to secular or religious causes (almost all of which do not directly relate to proclaiming the gospel but rather promote and spread the inventions of men (churches, institutions and methodologies)
- Establish religious organizations that compete with Jesus for souls, resources and impact upon society (which is synonymous with starting one’s own “ministry”) which has ZERO scriptural basis or precedent.
- All of the above allow for and even necessitate allegiances with this world system that is diametrically opposed to both Jesus and the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Together they all equal wood, hay and stubble. They will all be first shaken, and subsequently burned up.
Then we find here and there the faithful few who with Jesus willingly choose to make themselves of “no reputation.” These alone have discovered a secret, a secret within the confines of a special intimate relationship that they have alone with their Father through Jesus Christ. These have an altogether different approach to spiritual things which goes something like this, “not my will be done, but yours.”
To continue to pursue paths and directions outside of Scriptural precedent is unwise and even dangerous. Forming secular allegiances or even religious ecumenical societies without considering the consequence to the one purpose of God is to remain in denial. And to pursue both with a passion that equates to the military might of nations consumed with killing for their own aims and ends…..is to join hands and hearts with the enemy. I woke this morning to read of the passing of one such individual whose lasting legacy includes these sad truths:
- Despite being “ordained” in the Reformed Church of America, a worldly trend altogether earthly in nature, Robert Schuller sold a softer, gentler message which borrowed heavily from the father of the feel good gospel, Norman Vincent Peale.
- Habitually taught the power of “positive thinking”
- Mentored men like Rick Warren (of Purpose Driven fame) and Bill Hybels (Willow Creek Church) who regularly compromise the truth.
- His crowning achievement was the construction of his Crystal Cathedral Church megachurch which he eventually lost to bankruptcy and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County, CA.
Add to this quotes from his popular book called Self-Esteem: The New Reformation:
- “Sin is any act or thought that robs myself or another human being of his or her self-esteem” (page 14)
- “I found myself immediately attracted to Pope Paul John II, when upon his election to the Papacy, his published speeches invariably called attention to the need for recognizing the dignity of the human being as a child of God” (page 17)
- “Do not say that the central core of the human soul is wickedness. Positive Christianity does not hold to human depravity but to human inability” (page 67)
- “To be born again means that we must be changed from a negative to a positive self-image- from inferiority to self-esteem, from fear to love, from doubt to trust” (page 68)
Much more could be said, but isn’t necessary. This man counseled presidents and yet didn’t even possess in either words nor actions the true gospel of Jesus Christ. That was and is his legacy, like it or not.
A crucified man or woman does not leave works of brick and mortar, does not abandon nor reject Scriptural truth, does not involve himself in earthly affairs, ecumenical pursuits, nor leave items that those who control can boast about and sell for profit after they pass on. The real fruit of a crucified life is as follows:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” [Galatians 5:22, 23]
Is this enough for you?
May this be your own, and my own lasting legacy for Jesus’ sake.