A legacy can be a wonderful thing. Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines legacy as "A bequest, a gift by will; something received from an ancestor or predecessor." A legacy could be property or financial assets, great literature or works of art, or something more transcendental, such as a good name, a wonderful example, or a philosophy of life and how to live it.
There are great stories and interesting examples of legacies, large and small, in the history of mankind. In this country, there have been the Carnegies, the Rockefellers, the Vanderbilts, the Fords, and many other philanthropists. In Europe, the British Commonwealth, and other developed nations, great legacies have been bequeathed by leading industrialists, financiers, and royal families. Those physical legacies will pass away in time.
People of ordinary means also leave legacies. In Ecclesiastes 7:1 Solomon wrote that "A good name is better than precious ointment." The Book of Proverbs puts forth this idea in this way, "A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold" (Proverbs 22:1). Certainly, a family name associated with honesty and fair dealing is a wonderful legacy to those who receive it. A loving family relationship that brings children up in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4) is also a priceless, timeless legacy.
The other side of the coin is not so valuable. Proverbs 3:35 states plainly that, "The legacy of fools is shame." Shame? Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines shame as, "a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety. A condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute." No one wants this! Yet many live their lives in ways that bring shame and other undesirable consequences that trouble not only the current generation but spill over into subsequent generations, as well. We shouldn't be surprised.
Anciently, in the passage where the Ten Commandments were given, the Bible made this very clear in Exodus 20:5: "For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me."
So, as you contemplate your legacy, what will it be? If you are truly seeking answers to the important questions that every person should ask, and if you are dedicated to following God's way of life, your legacy will not be that of fools, but that of a wise, discerning person who wants God's will for yourself and your descendants.
While I was thinking about these things, these words came to mind:
There I was a young man with questions in my head
How should one live his life? What happens when you're dead?
The answers came not easy, but where should one look
Men have not the answers for they are found in the Book
The Book which is rejected by most who walk the earth
As little more than fables, of Truth there is a dearth
The cause for mankind's problems seem hidden from their view
The answers are before them, if they only knew
At some point there's a trigger, a bump, a poke, a prod
That makes one stop and listen, a call that comes from God
And then the fog is lifted, the scene comes bright and clear
The answers are provided for those with ears to hear
Many go the way that's broad; it's easy to see why
Hard may be the narrow way the few are drawn to try
The Way of God's not easy; the price of change is high
Yet with it comes the knowledge you want before you die.
Trials and tests may be your lot as life plays out each day
But wisdom cries out to each one who dares to walk this Way
Peace and plenty in this life if you be so blessed
And certainty of great reward if sins you have confessed
God has a plan to save all men in His time and Way
The evil one will not win out when Messiah returns to stay
Until that time, we live each day in service to the King
Walking in the Way of God eternal life will bring.
The legacy we leave is ours to choose. Will it be a godly legacy of truth and light, exemplified by the Christian life, or the "legacy of fools," which brings shame and disgrace?
All of Tomorrow's World's publications are provided free of charge to help you. Why not check out the telecast "The Hidden Messages of John 3:16" to learn about the legacy of eternal life that God has in store for His true children?