As the year comes to an end, and what a year it has been, it is commonplace to look back. To recess, to reflect. Over the last couple of weeks, that is what I have been doing, and, in my contemplation, I have thought about #legacy. What it means. How it happens.
In thinking about legacy, I have been reading Matthew chapter 1 over and repeatedly because I sensed that the Holy Spirit was teaching me through this particular chapter concerning my own life and legacy.
So in Matthew chapter 1, we are introduced to the genealogy or lineage of Jesus. The author writes it in a way, where there are 3 sections of generations. Matthew even goes on to say that there were 14 generations from Abraham to David. 14 Generations from David to the exile in Babylon. And 14 generations from the exile in Babylon to the birth of Jesus. In each of these sections, Matthew list predominantly patriarchs/fathers who had sons, and their sons and their sons. But there are women, five specifically, mentioned in this linage, which goes against the grain of a culture that is male dominated. The conditions for women were terrible. So, even the fact that five women were noted in the lineage of Christ was a huge deal!
So, I want to look briefly look at these five stories because they reveal a lot about the lineage Jesus Christ was born from and it speaks a greater message concerning legacy.
Matthew 1:1-16 - This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, 4 Ram the father of Aminadab, Aminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, 7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, 8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah, 9 Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah[c] and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon. 12 After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 Zerubbabel the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Elihud, 15 Elihud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.
The stories are about Tamar, Rahab and Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary
1. Tamar (Genesis 38)
In this story there is injustice and deception. Tamar is a Canaanite, and outcast, who marries an Israelite. She was done wrong according to the laws the Israelites lived (Deuteronomy 25:5-10). She was told to live as a widow in her father’s home and almost put to death.
2. Rahab (Joshua 2)
In this story you will find a Rahab who was a prostitute, helping save spies of Israel. The story highlights someone the world would consider “the least”, her reverence of God was a determining factor in Israel’s victory over their enemies.
3. Ruth (Ruth)
The story of Ruth represents those who are poor and just trying to survive. It represents refuges looking for a home. Also highlighting those who have no home to go to. It highlights faith and determination.
4. Bathsheba and David (2nd Samuel 11)
This story is about an affair, adultery, and murder. The lust and pride of David to sleep with someone else’s wife and have the husband killed.
5. The story of Mary
Mary’s story is about being looked down upon by society because she was pregnant before marriage, but it’s also about hope.
Jesus came from a lineage that had murders, deceivers, affairs, adultery, family cover ups, idol worshippers, prostitutes and wicked individuals. Some people believed in God and others didn’t. Some were wealthy and royalty, while others were poor and considered societal outcast. His linage consisted of people on the margins of society. Some were homeless, some taken captive, others were victims of injustice. They were survivors trying to make it in an oppressive system.
Jesus came from a lineage that encapsulates humanity (the good, bad and ugly). His linage was not of pure blood or royalty. The lineage was not perfect, but it told a story of God’s plan and purpose coming to fruition.
The legacy that Christ Jesus left is made more powerful from understanding the stories of His linage.
Our lineage can be a mess, but it does not have to determine our legacy.
Lineage is understanding where you came from (family history). Legacy is what you will leave behind.
Much like the lineage that Jesus came from, ours is filled with an array of individuals and stories that could either fall into a category of the good, the bad and the ugly. However, just as Jesus built a legacy for others to inherit after him, we too are building a legacy that will be left after we are dead and gone.
We all build/create legacies. It’s inevitable. The only determining factor of what that legacy will be depends on the decisions you made in the present.
There are two types of legacies that you can leave:
Inheritance = something you acquire (you get as a possession)
This could be property, finances, it usually denotes something that is material.
This could also be genetics
Proverbs 13:22 – A good person leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.
Heritage = refers to intangible things like ideas, knowledge, and morals.
Psalm 119:111-112 – Your statues are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.
How can we leave a #legacy?
Lack of defined purpose
Meaning you are living, but not quite sure of what or who you are living for.
Not thinking long term.
You think you do not have anything that needs to be shared with others.
Inactive with Sharing
Ideas, creativity, advice is withheld.
Living with a defined purpose
For example: standing up for injustice, caring for a loved one, caring for animals, ensuring your children will have a better starting point than you in life, getting an education, learning a trade, being an artist, etc.)
Thinking long term
Taking that purpose and thinking about how you can pass it along to someone else or capture it for the next generation, or your children.
Proactive with Sharing
Putting actions to those thoughts and sharing your purpose with others and that can be from sharing advice and wisdom to creating an organization, a social club or a social media group)
I love this quote from Wilke
Whatever you might believe about spiritual life, life beyond the physical realm, or the existence of energy and consciousness, the fact remains that what we create has impact. On us, our families, our friends, the communities where we live, the countries to which we pledge our allegiance; the global alliance we call the human race. It doesn’t matter if you’re famous, notorious, large, small, or in-between, you have impact. Visible, not visible, felt, not felt; ignored, denied, or dismissed... you have impact. That’s your legacy. Even if you’re someone who doesn’t give a hoot about what that impact is, the way you affect and influence your children, your personal circle, the world, anything and everything you touch IS your legacy. (Wilke)
Given that legacy is something we all will have, here are some practical steps in leaving a legacy.
Practical Tips on Leaving a #Legacy
1. Quality Time
The quality of time you spend with your loved ones will leave lasting memories that go beyond tangible possessions. So, make time in your schedule to spend quality time with your family. Invest in those relationships.
2. Family Traditions and Stories
This one is valuable for understanding the history of the family and continuing your family’s story for generations and generations. Be sure to share those old stories to the younger generation. Interview the older generation and record it. Maybe you can start a family history vault.
3. Financial Management
I did not have a full understanding of financial management until my mid-twenties. However, now my son, who is three (3), has a head start of understanding how to manage finances because we make it a point to teach him. Teach your children and grandchildren the importance of financial management so that they can control their money instead of money controlling them.
4. Plan to Transition Wealth
“You can safeguard your legacy and protect your family by coming up with a plan to transition your wealth.” (“Three Keys to Leaving a Lasting Legacy | DaveRamsey.Com”). Make a plan for the tangible wealth you have to be transitioned to your loved ones. Chris Hogan talks about having an Estate Plan for such an event. I will also add onto this having a Will.
5. Spiritual Formation
Aside from the tangible things we can leave behind, the greatest thing we can leave behind is our faith. Teach and share with your children about Christ Jesus and what it means to have a fear of the LORD. The Bible says that even such a fear of the LORD is beneficial for your children’s children.
Psalm 112:1-2 - Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.
This is the legacy that Christ Jesus left behind. He showed us the way in which we out to walk. He showed us how to seek God the Father. He showed us how to love the LORD, love our neighbor and pray. Jesus was concerned with our hearts and glorifying the Father. He created a legacy and now all who believe are a part of His linage, adopted into the family of God.
Ephesians 1:13-14 - 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
Wilke, Lorraine Devon. “‘Legacy’ Is Not Just For the Famous; We Each Create Our Own Every Day | HuffPost.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 29 July 2016, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/legacy-is-not-just-for-th_b_11253760.
“Three Keys to Leaving a Lasting Legacy | DaveRamsey.Com.” Daveramsey.Com, https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/will-your-retirement-leave-a-legacy. Accessed 30 Dec. 2020.