WHEN LIFE IS OVER – Leaving a Legacy
In January 2003 the Ohio State Buckeyes played for the National Championship. In his pre-game speech head coach Jim Tressel wanted to encourage his players to step up to another level. Tressel asked his players a very powerful question: “What do you want to be remembered for?” Would the Buckeyes be remembered as National Champions or would they be forgotten as losers? Fortunately for Pastor George the Buckeye’s are remembered as the 2002 National Champions.
Would you agree that life is a lot more important than a football game? Can life be a lot more challenging than a football game? Because your life and mine is more important and more challenging than a football game, life is also a lot more rewarding! So let me ask you a question: What do you want to be remembered for?
Death has a perfect track record. The ratio for births to deaths is one to one; every person who is born eventually also dies. While not many of us want to think about it our death is as certain as our birth. None of us will be able to cheat death, so when your life is over how will you be remembered?
This morning we are dedicating the waterfall and cross on the south end of our building to the glory of God. These have been given in loving memory of two men whose lives on this earth are over: Bill Huffman and Darrell Minnick. Many of us have memories of these men that live on in our hearts. However neither Bill nor Darrell can do anything to change the life they lived and the legacy they have left behind in the hearts of family and friends.
Only the living can change how they will be remembered. If your life were to end today will you be happy with the way people remember you? What are you doing to insure that you leave a legacy that will carry on long after your life is over?
• Proverbs 13:22 (NIV)
A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children
• A good life gets passed on to the grandchildren. (MsgB)
What is a legacy?
Legally a legacy is a bequest made in a will. When is a will put into effect. The terms of a will are enacted upon death. Therefore a legacy can be thought of as the money or property that you designate to be given to your children or other individuals after you die. This is not the legacy we are talking about. You may bequest large sums of money and property, but we want to think about something greater than just money and things.
Legacy is also defined as something from the past; something handed down or that remains from a previous generation. We want to talk about your personal legacy; the something of who you are that will be left behind after your life is over. What will remain of your faith, your character, your personhood when this life is over?
Psalm 1 shows us how we can have a legacy that will not only be remembered by those we leave behind, but treasured and emulated as well. The legacy of the righteous is found in four “C’s:” Character, Conduct, Convictions, and Compassion. The Psalmist also shows us what will become of those who don’t purpose to have a legacy to pass on; for the wicked their life is lost in but one “C:” Chaff.
When this life is over we will have left behind a legacy by:
1. Building Godly Character and Conduct
• Psalm 1:1 (NIV)
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.
If you want to leave behind a legacy it will be built through Godly character and conduct. Your legacy will be made up through the things you say and do. Legacy is who you really are, not who you wanted to be.
• Proverbs 22:1 (NIV)
A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
We live in a day when many people would rather have silver and gold than a good name. Character and conduct is not as important to many people today; what matters to most is your capability!
President Clinton showed us that you can be a “good president” even if you are less than virtuous.
You can be a great surgeon with the scalpel, but you can be a drunk at night.
You can practice law and be a great lawyer even if you cheat on your wife.
You can be a great salesman or accountant and still cheat on your taxes.
You can be a successful politician and not tell the truth.
We make the mistake of believing the same things to be true about people in the church. You can do “bad things” and still be a “good Christian” right? Can I be a “good pastor” regardless of how I live in my “personal life?” You can’t live like the devil Monday through Saturday and expect to have God’s blessing on Sunday. How we live our lives, the things we say and do, matters to God. It should matter to us also. We’re not just trying to make a good reputation for ourselves; we are building character!
o Reputation is what you try to live up to; Character is what you are.
o Reputation is what precedes you; Character is what remains after you have gone.
o Reputation is made in a moment; Character is built in a lifetime.
o Reputation is what men say about you at your funeral; Character is what is said about you before the throne of God.
o Reputation is what men think you are. Character is what God knows you to be.
• 2 Peter 1:5 (NIV)
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness.
Then your faith will produce a life of moral excellence. (NLT)
Building Godly character and conduct will give us a legacy we can pass on to our children and our children’s children.
A well built character and conduct will impact generations to come. It is also fair to say that a flawed character can have an equally devastating effect upon future generations.
ILLUSTRATION: The story of two family trees from early American History: Max Juke, a backwoodsman who was a hard drinker and didn’t care to for hard work, and had many children, some of which were illegitimate. Whether Max considered himself a Christian or believed in God we cannot know for sure, but it is fair to say he was a man of the world. 709 known descendants were studied as part of the Juke family: 280 lived as paupers; 140 were known criminals; 60 were thieves; 6 were murderers; 128 were prostitutes; 67 were known to have syphilis; 300 died early in life. It is interesting how many members of Max Juke’s family tree seemed to have a lifestyle akin to the world.
A second man, living at the same time as Max Juke was the great preacher Jonathan Edwards. Some 1,394 members of the Edwards family tree were studied (including some who married into the family). Of these there were practically no lawbreakers; 100 lawyers and 30 judges; 13 college presidents and 100 professors; 62 physicians; 100 clergymen, missionaries, and theological professors; 80 elected to public office including 3 mayors, 3 governors, several congressmen, 3 senators, and 1 vice-president (Aaron Burr); 60 were authors writing 135 books; 75 were army and navy officers. While we cannot say all those included in the Edwards family tree were Christians, we can see that there is a sharp contrast to that of Juke’s family tree. It is safe to say that Edwards faith in God, the character and conduct of the legacy he and his wife passed on to their family made a lasting impact for generations to come. (see: http://www.rfrick.info/jukes.htm)
When this life is over we will have left behind a legacy by building Godly CHARACTER and CONDUCT, and by:
2. Holding Godly Convictions
• Psalm 1:2 (NIV)
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
The righteous man or woman who will leave a lasting legacy is a man or woman of “THE BOOK;” the foundation for their lives is built upon the Bible. God’s Word fills the heart of the righteous as they reflect and think about the teaching of scripture day and night. The Message Bible says, “You thrill to God’s word, you chew on Scripture day and night.”
Is there anyone honest enough to say they have a hard time meditating on Scripture? What do you think of when it comes to meditation? being in a trance in a secluded from the pressures of the work-a-day world?
Let’s ask another honesty question: DO YOU KNOW HOW TO WORRY? Worry is negative mental energy used to think about situations or people with uncertainty and fear. You can worry anywhere.
Meditation uses the same mental energy as worry, but turned inside out; the negative energy becomes positive, life-giving. Meditation is to think over throughout the day, to reflect upon God’s Word. That’s why it is important not to just read the Bible and then set it aside and check Bible reading off your “Things to do” list. Instead take one thought or verse from what you read each day and think about it through out the day.
How many of you know that the things you meditate upon or think about regularly will come out in the things you do and say? Let me show you what I mean: Who do you know that is a worrier? How do you know they worry all the time? Do you read their mind? No! They tell you about their anxiety and uncertainties in what they do and say; what they think about comes out. Here’s another example: How many of you know that if you spend enough time with Pastor George you will hear about the Buckeyes?
As we meditate upon God’s Word we can’t keep it to ourselves either. The more you think about what God’s Word has to say, the more you will talk about it.
• Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (NIV)
 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
This is not a suggestion! God tells us to put His commandments, His word upon our hearts and to impress them upon our children. Notice when we are to do this: at home and away from home, when we wake up and when we go to bed. In other words anytime and anyplace is a good time and a good place to talk about God’s Word. It should be a continual part of our day, a habit.
Now how do we develop a good habit of teaching our children to know God’s Word? It flows out of our habit of meditating upon God’s Word.
The righteous will pass on a lasting legacy through GODLY CONVICTIONS. Notice these are Godly convictions not opinion! An opinion is a personal view or estimation; an opinion can change with your perspective, opinion can blow in the wind. An opinion is something you believe but are not fully convinced of because opinion lacks persuasive power, opinion can sit on the fence.
A conviction is bed rock to who we are on the inside, the foundational principles and beliefs we build our lives upon; a conviction has absolute confidence and certainty, a conviction builds passion and zeal.
• 1 Kings 18:21 (NIV)
Elijah went before the people and said, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him." But the people said nothing.
Elijah challenge the wavering opinion of the people; how long would they just sit on the fence leaning one way and then the other? You can’t have it both ways! Jesus had strong words for the lukewarm church of Laodicea.
• Revelation 3:15-16 (MsgB)
 I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot—far better to be either cold or hot!  You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit.
The righteous won’t be lukewarm; they won’t mix the opinions of hot and cold. The righteous will be red hot for God; they will hold onto Godly convicions.
When this life is over we will have left behind a legacy by building Godly CHARACTER and CONDUCT, holding Godly CONVICTIONS and by:
3. Demonstrating Godly Compassion
• Psalm 1:3 (NIV)
He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
The righteous will pass on a legacy by showing Godly compassion. When people around them are being scorched by the heat of the sun they will offer them a place to sit in the shade. Whenever someone is in need their life will bear fruit at just the right time. Neither the cold of winter nor the drought of summer will affect the righteous; their leave never fall, their life is always in bloom. Even through the most difficult seasons of life the righteous will have a heart of Godly compassion to share with others.
Why will the righteous prosper through Godly compassion? The righteous are not self-centered, but are sensitive to those around them. Those who lack compassion, are self-absorbed and ingrown thinking only about themselves.
Have you ever been caught with your zipper down or had your shirt or blouse unbuttoned? Would you knowingly go out into the world not fully dressed?
• Colossians 3:12 (NIV)
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
As Christians we are going through our day undressed if we don’t have a heart of compassion for other people. In the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus exposed how we can act like good religious people but be uncaring and uncompassionate toward the people around us. He showed us that religion isn’t fully dressed exposing a lack of compassion. [Tell the story.]
• Luke 10:36-37 (NIV)
 "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"  The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
When this life is over we will have left behind a legacy by building Godly CHARACTER and CONDUCT, holding Godly CONVICTIONS and by demonstrating Godly COMPASSION. Unfortunately not everyone leaves a lasting legacy.
4. The Chaff – The lost legacy of the wicked
• Psalm 1:1-6 (NIV)
 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.  Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.  Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.  For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
The contrast between the righteous and the wicked is as noticeable as the difference between night and day. The legacy of the righteous will remain while the legacy of the wicked will vanish and come to nothing.
The legacy of the wicked is the chaff; it blows away in the wind. The chaff is destroyed in the fire. The legacy of the wicked will be lost forever.
Everyone leaves a legacy of one kind or another. You see the question is more than just, “How do you want to be remembered?” but “How do you want to be remembered by God?” Family and friends will all remember us in one way or another; even our enemies will remember something. But how will God remember us when our lives are over?
• 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 (NIV)
 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,  his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.  If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.  If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
God will test everyone’s life by fire. How do you want to be remembered by God? ONLY THOSE WHO BUILD UPON THE FOUNDATION OF CHRIST WILL BE SAVED; if anything else is your foundation your legacy will be lost and you will be eternally separated from God.
AND GOD WILL EXAMINE THE WORK OF EVERYONE WHO BUILDS UPON THE FOUNDATION OF CHRIST. Will we have anything that survives the fire for God to remember, or will our life be a waste saved through the fire? The wood hay and stubble will be gone, only the fine jewels, gold and silver will remain.
How can we build our life with materials that will leave a legacy God also will remember on the day we are tested by fire? Build Godly Character and Conduct; hold Godly Convictions, and demonstrate Godly Compassion.
ILLUSTRATION: What is the legacy of Elvis or John Lennon? Both left behind a great amount of wealth; both made their mark in the world of rock and roll, they have left an imprint upon our culture that remains to this day. Yet both also had drug and alcohol addictions; their lifestyle was anything but righteous. How does God remember Elvis and Lennon? What remains in eternity of their lives now that this live is over?
As we prepare to dedicate the waterfall and cross outside we will remember Bill and Darrell. Both of these men had similar life experiences. Bill and Darrell both served in the armed forces during WW2. Both lived less than perfect lives; both had seasons of their lives which would be remembered by God as nothing more than chaff, these things would be lost forever.
But neither Bill nor Darrell’s life stories end with the chaff. Both Bill and Darrell met Jesus along life’s journey; both made the decision to ask Christ to forgive them for their sins. Bill and Darrell made a new beginning, a fresh start with God through Jesus Christ. That decision changed everything for them. Yes the chaff of their lives will be lost forever, but their love for God remains. THAT IS A LEGACY THAT ENDURES FOREVER!