Leaving a Legacy

The Wednesday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is a Scriptural meditation whereby I take a verse or passage I have been pondering lately and seek to edify my readers with it’s promises, encouragements, warnings, rebukes, etc.

How important is a legacy to you? A legacy, according to Webster’s Dictionary, could be defined as “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor from the past.” We will all most likely be in the position one day – if you haven’t already – of handing something down.

Let me illustrate the importance of legacies.

There was a man born in 1703 in Connecticut. He attended Yale University at the age of thirteen and later became the President of that school (known as Princeton then). At the age of twenty, he wrote in his diary “I will ask myself, at the end of every day…wherein I could possibly, in any respect, have done any better.” He would marry a woman named Sarah and they would have eleven children. Despite his hectic schedule of rising at 4:30am each day, reading and writing in his library, and traveling extensively, he always had time for his children. He committed himself to spending at least one hour per day with them. His name was Jonathan Edwards.

During this same time, there was another man who lived. He was a drunk who never could hold a steady job. He didn’t care at all for his wife or kids. Some days he would disappear for days and return home drunk out of his mind. His name was Max Jukes.

Benjamin Warfield looked at the five generations that followed these two men. For Max Jukes, here is what he found: 310 of his relatives died homeless, 150 became criminals (sixty thieves and seven murderers), more than 100 were drunks, and 190 sold themselves to female prostitution. And none of these people, as you imagine, made a contribution to society – in the 1,200 people following the legacy of Max Jukes.

For Jonathan Edwards’ descendants, thirteen became college presidents, sixty-five became college professors, thirty became judges, 100 became lawyers, sixty became physicians, seventy-five became soldiers in the Army and Navy, 100 became pastors, sixty became authors, three became U.S. senators, eighty others became servants in other government roles (e.g., governors, ambassadors, etc.) and one became vice-president of the U.S. (Aaron Burr, who served under Thomas Jefferson from 1801-1805).

Thus, legacies are crucial and can define entire generations. While those stories are not always the absolute rule, they do illustrate for us the importance of leaving a spiritual legacy for our children and grandchildren

That’s what the psalmist had in mind when he wrote this: “Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD,
who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD. The LORD bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life! May you see your children’s children! Peace be upon Israel
!” (Ps 128)

Is that what you are teaching your children and grandchildren and nephews and nieces by your example in the home? Are you making any and every sacrifice in your life in order to prioritize obedience to Him? Are you sharing those decisions with your family, explaining to them why you chose to fear God instead of something else? What kind of legacy are you leaving for your children and grandchildren?

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