Growing up, my father would often remind me that everyone has one basic desire: to be acknowledged, to feel as though he or she matters and that his or her life has meaning. Since becoming a Christian, I have often considered this from two vantage points: the vertical and the horizontal.
Our ultimate desire is the vertical decent God makes toward us as we reach the end of our day, our year, our life: it is the breathtaking moments when we can almost, almost hear God whisper, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” It is our hope that at our last day, we will be ushered into the eternal kingdom by a brilliant smile on the face of our Savior that says, “Because you lived, the world really is a better place.”
The horizontal acknowledgement is directly linked to the vertical praise of our great God. It is the evidence that our lives really did matter, that we really did allow ourselves to be God’s vessels. It is the idea of legacy.
Nichole Nordeman’s song, Legacy >>, speaks to the very issue of us laying aside what the world demeans important and instead living for the purposes of God:
I don't mind if you've got something nice to say about me
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
You could take my picture and hang it in a gallery
Of all the who's who and so-n-so's that used to be the best
At such'n'such ...it wouldn't matter much
I won't lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights
We all need an 'Atta boy' or 'Atta girl'
But in the end I'd like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world
I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy
When we consider how we would like to be remembered, what first comes to mind? That we found success in our work, our ministry, our relationships? That we did this-and-that or led such-and-such? That we impacted x-amount of people? Do we look to quantity or quality?
What does a godly legacy look like anyways?
- It looks like an extraordinary display of the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22).
- It looks like the call of Micah 6:8: act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.
- It looks like acts spoken of in Psalm 15: walk blamelessly, do what is right, speak truth, don’t slander, don’t do evil, don’t take a bribe, etc.
In Psalm 24:4, 6 we find a simple summation of the qualities which define a godly legacy:
…he who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully….Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.
Purity. Integrity. Authentic worship. Honesty. Seeking (or not) these qualities has an exponentially powerful effect on the legacy we leave. “Being acknowledged” is indeed one of the most important desires for us as human beings—we want to be acknowledged by God and by others. Ultimately, however, as with many things in God’s upside-down, inside-out, topsy-turvy kingdom, this comes not from a place of accolades or power or privilege, but from servanthood, respect, and humility.
What kind of legacy have you left thus far? What kind of legacy do you want to leave? Are you living such that on that final day God will say, “The world is better because you were in it”? Without exception, the ultimate acknowledgement of “Well done, good and faithful servant!” on our final day will be marked by evidences that we humbly acknowledged others to the best of our abilities. And it will begin with Nordeman’s question, “Did I point to You enough to make a mark on things?”
“Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.” – Paul (Eph. 4:1)
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Posted November 26, 2012