When my kids were little, I was able to earn extra money as a freelance writer. One of the most interesting assignments was writing speeches. I worked for a hospital foundation that had an awards dinner each year honoring a donor and a doctor, and I interviewed these folks and then wrote about their lives. No matter who it was, there was always a central theme and that was legacy. What had these people done that would live beyond them?
In the years since then, I have often thought about that word – legacy, but for me, I framed it as a Christian. Who has God put in my life that helped me to know Him better, and how could I possibly do that for others? In the end, what we do in obedience to God, what we do to spread His love, what we do in the power of His Spirit, these are the only things that truly live on. Isaiah 55:11 says,” So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
Here’s an example in my life of a true Christian’s legacy. As a teen, I was searching for God, and a friend brought me to a prayer meeting that happened to be held in the gym of a Catholic school. There I met a born-again nun who had a profound impact on my life. In John 3:33 Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Sister Clarice was born again and filled with the Holy Spirit. She came to have a very real relationship with Jesus based on the witness of others and the Bible which she had come to love and study daily. Paul talks about this in 2 Timothy 3:15 when he says, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make these wise unto salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus.”
Whether you learn about salvation as a child like Timothy did, or as an adult as Sr. Clarice did, there is only one way to salvation and that’s through faith in the Lord Jesus. It’s not a fervent hope. It’s a surety based on Christ’s sacrifice for us. As the principal of a Catholic school, she made every effort to teach the kids to trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and when she retired, she did the same as a hospital chaplain for the sick and dying.
God brought her into my life to answer questions at a time when I needed it the most. I had just given my life to Christ when I pondered a question about something I had learned about as a child. I asked her, “Is there a purgatory? If Jesus died for our sins, and we trust in Him, would we need to go to a place of waiting after we died?” She smiled at me and said, “All I know is that I am not going. The Bible says that God has cast my sins into a sea of forgetfulness.” She was referring to Micah 7:19 that says, “He will turn again, He will have compassion on us; He will subdue our iniquities. And Thou will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”
Sr. Clarice was one of the ones who prayed for me every day as I struggled to find my own relationship with God. She believed in God’s Word above all else and described her relationship with God as a covenant. Scriptures guided her life; she willingly shared her faith, and she prayed. I thank God for her.
How do you build a legacy that will last? First, you must be born again. You must trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” Second, study and obey God’s Word, and share it with others. 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” Finally, know that you don’t have to be perfect, but you do need to continually seek after God – coming back to Him every time you waver. Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” I have made many selfish mistakes since that day I first trusted in Jesus as a teen, but I rely on God’s strength, knowing it is His grace which brings us home.
As a writer, I enjoyed meeting those many honorees. They were sort of famous—at least locally. They were clearly generous. They did some important things. Though knowing human nature, I suspect that much of what they did has been forgotten by now. In contrast, I will never forget those who shared their faith with me. The only thing that lasts, our true legacy, is what we do to honor Jesus – and even that, we do by His strength and grace. 1 Peter 1:24-25 says, “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the Word of the Lord endureth forever.”
— Written by Jill