By Dr. Michael A. Milton, Crosswalk.com
The Only Lasting Legacy You Can Leave
By Dr. Michael A. Milton
"For you, O God, have heard my vows, and have given a heritage to those who fear your Name."—Psalm 61:5
"He is building his legacy." We have often heard that statement about a politician seeking to establish his record for posterity. We sometimes hear about one seeking to build a legacy in terms of business. For example, it is frequently uttered as a frail older man laying his hands upon a favorite child to carry on a heritage of leadership. We have all experienced this and, to some degree, have probably wanted it for ourselves. At its core, without selfish ambition, or any nefarious motives, this is ordinarily a good thing. However, the psalmist uses this familiar transfer of wealth, prestige, leadership, or a record of accomplishment to the legacy of faith. Nothing is more important because nothing is eternal as leaving a legacy of faith. Faith in Jesus Christ transcends the finite heritage of power or prestige. The legacy of faith will remain when the presidential libraries, multigenerational and well-earned successful businesses are gone.
When I was pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga, one of our older members passed away. She had been known as "a mountain woman." Long widowed from a faithful husband who worked with his hands in a local factory, this woman was known for teaching Sunday school, vacation Bible school, and cultivating an incomparably fruitful garden. She lived to a ripe old age. At her funeral, the children, who all lived in neighboring states, came together for the memorial service. Before the service, as I gathered with them privately, I learned that the most significant epitaph repeated was, "She didn't have that much, and she never did." They were speaking of a legacy of wealth. That part was indeed genuine. The summary of her life, however, was much more extraordinary than such a dour assessment. Indeed, those of us who knew Mrs. Moore recognized that she was one of the wealthiest women in the community. Mrs. Moore’s life was filled with love and admiration from those who had sat under her teaching and guidance as children. Her garden was much more than a standard backyard vegetable patch. A veritable nursery, the garden reflected the care born out of a love of God as if doing her best in her garden was a way to say thank you to God for his lavish grace in saving her from her sins. She was also one of the happiest ladies I had known. At her service, I read this verse to the congregation, including her seven children seated up front with their families. I talked about one of the wealthiest women I had ever known. There was a strange look on the faces of her children. "Didn't we just say to you, she never had a thing in her life?" If faces and expressions could talk, that is what I heard. We concluded our service with the question,” Having looked at this passage and considered its meaning, can we not say that Mrs. Moore has left you with a legacy of inestimable value? As with any estate, the question remains how you will use the opportunities she has bequeathed."
There is a message for each of us here. Your most significant legacy for your family, community, and this world is a heritage of faith in Jesus Christ. How are you building that legacy today? You will not need a team of financial professionals or estate lawyers. Everything for faith and godliness is available in word, sacrament, and prayer. Oh, that each of us would see the pathway to the incredible and indestructible nature of the heritage of faith in Jesus Christ. What of eternal wealth will you leave to those who follow?
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Intersecting Faith and Life:
One of the greatest things we can do is invest in our families with spiritual capital. There is no greater way to do this than merely praying with your child. The power of going to your knees in front of your child and praying for that child will leave an indelible impression on her soul. I challenge you this week to commit to praying for your children nightly, daily. So that God’s Word and His promises to a thousand generations will begin with you. Amen
For a musical meditation, consider “Faithful and True,” a song about passing on the legacy of faith in Christ. Stream for free by permission of the composer (myself).
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/sticker2you
Michael A. Milton (PhD, Wales) is a long-time Presbyterian minister (PCA) and a regular contributor to Salem Web Network. In addition to founding three churches, and the call as Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Chattanooga, Dr. Milton is a retired Army Chaplain (Colonel). He is the recipient of the Legion of Merit. Milton has also served as chancellor and president of seminaries and is the author of more than thirty books. He has composed and performed original music for five albums. He and his wife, Mae, reside in Western North Carolina. His most recent book is a second edition release: Hit by Friendly Fire: What to do when Another Believer Hurts You (Resource Publications, 2022). To learn more visit and subscribe: https://michaelmilton.org/about/.