We are going to skip past the obvious aspects of legacy in the Old Testament, where a peoples almost wholly outnumbered in all directions struggling to survive in a harsh environment would naturally tout the begetting of offspring, see the blessing of children as a sign of God’s favor, and otherwise embrace the concept of legacy as equivalent to the concept of basic survival.
Beyond the obvious, though, what does God’s word have to say about our legacy? What does legacy look like from a Biblical perspective?
We might begin in Ecclesiastes, chapter three, where the teacher laments, God “has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” We have a longing in our hearts for God and yet lack the ability to truly understand Him. How, then, might we comprehend His concept of legacy?
“I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live,” the teacher continues (emphasis added). “That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil–this is the gift of God.” Knowing that we cannot fathom the eternal, the teacher admonishes us to please God by concentrating on the present. “I know that everything God does will endure forever,” the teacher concludes. “Nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.”
So, the purpose of what is lasting, according to the teacher, is to further our reverence for God. In other words, the Bible ties legacy not to what may be lauded about men and women, but what may be credited to God.
The book of Isaiah furthers this understanding of legacy:
“‘The multitude of your sacrifices–what are they to me?’ says The Lord. ‘I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings. . . . wash and make yourselves clean . . . . stop doing wrong, learn to do right!'”
God’s definition of right is spelled out quite clearly through the example given by the life of Jesus and His teachings, but Isaiah likewise elaborates on doing right: “seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”
In the book of Mark, Christ explains it this way: “The foremost [commandment] is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second [commandment] is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Christ’s parables are more examples to help define legacy: What of the mustard seed, the tiniest of all things that grows into a mighty plant, the example to us that even the smallest of our actions can be turned into big things by God? What of the seed which fell on good soil, “the man who hears the word and understands it, [producing] a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown” (Matthew 13)? What of the Vine and Branches of John 15, where God must cut off the unfruitful branches from the vine that is Christ and even prune those branches which are fruitful?
So, the Bible says that legacy is bearing fruit for the Kingdom of God. Next week, let’s discuss practical ways to bring forth the kind of fruit the Kingdom of God expects us to bear, for we do not want to “sow the wind and reap the whirlwind,” but rather to sow in Christ’s love and reap souls for the kingdom of heaven.