Leaving a Legacy
Each of us is leaving a legacy. Every day we are adding something to the portrait of our lives, and eventually what we leave behind—our decisions, our contributions, our priorities—will remain, at least for a time, for others to reflect upon and consider.
At the end of Paul’s second letter to Timothy, we find the words of an older man whose life was coming to an end: “I am already being poured out as a drink offering,” he says, “and the time of my departure has come” (2 Timothy 4:6). In this context, he exhorts Timothy to take his responsibilities seriously, to consider his legacy, and to contemplate both the helpful and harmful legacies left behind by many that Paul encountered.
In the opening chapter, Paul had reminded Timothy that “all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes” (2 Timothy 1:15). These individuals receive one mention in the Bible, and it is to record the fact that they deserted a man in need. Paul also warns Timothy to be on his guard concerning people like Hymenaeus and Philetus, whose “talk … spread like gangrene” and who “swerved from the truth,” or like Alexander the coppersmith, who, Paul says, “did me great harm” (2:17-18; 4:14). When we look at the portraits these individuals left behind, we see a legacy of desertion, false teaching, and opposition to the gospel.
But Paul’s letter is also replete with mention of those who left helpful, beneficial legacies. For example, Lois and Eunice demonstrated sincere faith, which Paul is certain now dwells in the young pastor Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5). Likewise, Paul exhorts his protégé to remember Onesiphorus, who “often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me” (v 16-17). Onesiphorus left behind a legacy of faith, courage, and conviction. If he said he’d be somewhere, he was there. He was a man on whom Paul could fully rely.
We are all leaving a legacy. When we walk out of a room, either we leave behind the aroma of Christ that spreads the knowledge of Him everywhere (2 Corinthians 2:15-16), or we are leaving the less pleasant smell of self-promotion or the vacuum of saying and being nothing much at all. A legacy of faithfulness, godliness, kindness, gentleness, honesty, integrity, love, and peace is a legacy that will be remembered with affection. But most importantly, it will point people to the one whose life matters most—the Lord Jesus.
A legacy is the accretion of daily decisions to make a difference for Christ: to love Him and love our neighbor, to pursue peace and speak of Him. Today, you will build a small—or perhaps major—part of your own legacy. So do the work God has prepared for you to do and make a difference for Him. After all, we never know when we’ve just made our final deposit in the legacy we’re leaving.
2Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 9Bondservants2 are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.
11For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
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