What will be your legacy?
As Christians we must look no further than the life of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ as our legacy model. Will people remember you as a man of God? Will they recall Christ-like characteristics in your words and your deeds? How do you handle conflict in your life? Are you thought of as quarrelsome or as a peacemaker? Are you considered by others as prideful or humble? Do your words build others up or tear them down? Is your heart filled with the love of God and the desire to share that love with others or are you driven by selfish, hedonistic desires?
Being a man of God is a full time job. You may be a reflection of Christ on Sundays, but if someone encounters you on another day and you are a quarrelsome, prideful, hedonistic jerk, which character trait will prevail?
Sadly, your legacy will be not only remembered as the jerk, but you can now add hypocrite to the list as well!
Most of the time we don’t get second chances when it comes to making an impression on someone. The baseline to remember is whatever is buried in your heart will rise up in your words and actions. Immerse yourself in the Word of God and Christ will be reflected in your life. Drown yourself in the ways of the world, and well, you get the picture.
When we immerse ourselves we become completely enveloped or surrounded. If you are learning a foreign language, learning the words and phrases is a great start, but if you immerse yourself by living in that region where the dialect is spoken, you develop a richness and understanding of not only the language, but the culture thus making the new language a part of your life. You not just learn the language, you live it.
How many of you remember everything you learned in school? You learned it well enough to get a (hopefully) passing grade. But if you didn't apply it in your daily life, you probably forgot most or all of it.
I took two years of German in high school and got straight A's. Unfortunately, I did not apply what I'd learned to my daily life and now, aside from "guten tag", much of those two years of training are lost.
This becomes most relevant when it comes to our study and understanding of Scripture. Developing a head knowledge of God’s Word does not make us Christ-like in our words and actions. Satan can recite every word of the Bible, but it hasn't done much to improve his character. Application of God’s Word is how we change our lives and bind His Word into our hearts. Until our hearts are filled with Christ, we aren't going to act like Christ.
I have been blessed with some study time in the Book of James and here are two passages that speak to this subject:
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:19-22 ESV)
“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (James 3:13-18 ESV)
We are all going to die. The one thing that doesn't get buried with us in the grave is our legacy. Our character and how we lived our lives will live on in the hearts of those who’s lives we leave behind. Make sure every day you enjoy on this earth is a day lived for Christ. Don’t just learn it, live it. Be doers of His Word, not hearers only and reap a harvest of righteousness, sharing the bountiful harvest with those around you.