What comes to mind when you hear the word “legacy”? Perhaps it is somebody’s reputation. Maybe it brings to mind the name of quality paint, or a good brand of windows for your home. Still, yet again it may simply bring to mind the image of a quality automobile. How about if you were to hear the word in the context of Father’s Day? Now what does it bring to mind? If you were like most men I would imagine that it means how people will remember you after you have departed from this world. (This article just got sober, huh?)
Most men, myself included, find so much of our identity in our vocation that we pour ourselves into our work, couching our long hours in a “providing for my family” exoneration. Others might argue that a proper legacy is another rung up on the corporate ladder, or another degree or title. A dictionary definition suggests that a legacy is “something handed down by a predecessor.” Now this could be a sum of money or property, but I don’t really think that is the sort of legacy we desire most to leave behind, at least from a godly perspective. I really don’t think most people when asked would applaud their husband’s or father’s legacy as being one that put in 65 hours a week or had amassed ridiculous fortunes, or a 1 handicap.
Men, let me suggest what God’s legacy is for our lives from three passages of Scripture.
Number 1. Deuteronomy 6:5. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” These words are repeated (pretty much) by Christ in the New Testament (important!) and communicate that a person who is pleasing to God (obeying God) is to love Him with their emotion, intellect, being, and physicality- their entire being! What does that look like? A man who pursues God acutely knowing about Him, having an intimate relationship with Him, and actually putting that into physical service by serving Him!
Number 2. Ephesians 5:25-26, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.” The next legacy indicator I would suggest is the character of man you are with your mate. Are you lording your authority over her? Or are you willfully serving her in Christ-like obedience nurturing her spiritual health. I’m gonna guess most answered, “No.” So, let’s just say, “Start fresh today” and we’ll “forget” about your past track record.
Number 3. Deuteronomy 6:6-9, “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Let me just sum these up by saying you are to teach your children about God. Not your pastor. Not your church Sunday School. Not your wife. YOU! (Psalm 78:1-8). You are to be a living example to your family and your community, i.e. “Love-your-neighbor-as-yourself stuff.” Get it? Again, let’s start fresh today and we’ll forget about previous transgressions.
So…what do you want your legacy to be? How do you desire to be remembered? As the man who worked horrendous hours pursuing the buck, titles or the corner office? The “justified” distant or all-together vacant husband or father? The “I-never-even-knew-he-was-a-Christian” kind of neighbor? Or the guy who leaves behind a heritage of loving God- so much so that he serves his wife, family and community in godly obedience so that long after you are gone the spiritual ripples you have generated are lapping faraway shores?
God. Wife. Family. Community.
Now, that’s a legacy you can live for!
Happy Father’s Day!