How do you want to be remembered? What do you hope people will say about you? What do you want your legacy to be? Hebrews 11 is often referred to as the faith hall of fame. In it we see pictures of the patriarchs and the legacy they left. Psalm 74:4-6 says, “We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord… so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.” As we read Hebrews 11, we’ll see four intentional actions we can take to leave a godly legacy.
In verses 8-10, we read that Abraham obeyed God and followed Him even though he didn’t know where he was going. He made his home in the promised land and “lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.” Legacy has to do with at least three generations. God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You see it in the New Testament in 2 Timothy 1:5 with Lois, Eunice, and Titus. Passing your faith down to the next generation is both caught and taught. By faith, Abraham obeyed God. You can’t pass down what you don’t have.Abraham passed an inheritance down both physically and spiritually to his heirs Isaac and Jacob. What you pass on does not matter if you do not pass on your faith. Make sure what you’re giving is going to show up in heaven!
Verses 17-19 remind us that God tested Abraham and asked him to sacrifice Isaac. Faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted. Everything in the life of the patriarchs was not always good. If life was always good, we would not appreciate it. The hard times make us appreciate the good times. It is not what you leave to your children that is most important, it is what you leave in them. We want to shelter our kids from the pain, but hard times make great men. Don’t spoil them too much! Give them more than a financial inheritance. Give them a spiritual heritage. Isaac represented all of Abraham’s hope for the future. Will you lay your Isaac on the altar? Your career, job, retirement, plans, dreams? Joseph had a dream, but he ended up in a pit and prison before the palace! When you are down to nothing, God is up to something. God wants to use your story, your legacy to encourage others.
“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future” (v. 20). In Genesis 1:28 God blessed Adam and Eve. In Genesis 12 God blessed Abraham. Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau. Jacob blessed his children and grandchildren. We need some patriarchs who will say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” We need to give our children and grandchildren a solid foundation. Pass on the blessing and favor of God. We can bless them through:
- A meaningful touch– a hug, a kiss, laying a hand on them
- A spoken word– of love, of acceptance, of affection, of affirmation
- A future hope– something to look forward to
Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.” Everyone leaves a legacy. Either good or bad. We all leave footprints behind us. We will be remembered for our generosity or selfishness. Those who mourn us will talk about the ways we loved them or the ways we neglected them.
In verse 21 we read, “By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.” It is not how you start; it is how you finish! Jacob had 12 babies by four different women. He was a trickster and deceptive, a messed-up dude. This should give all of us a little hope! If you dropped the ball with your kids, God will give you another chance. Jacob blessed his grandkids. My favorite parenting line is, “That may be what you did, but it is not who you are!” If you messed up, make it right. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not get the promised land. They died not receiving the promise, but they stood on the promises and their grandchildren got it.
You are leaving a legacy whether you want to or not. What will it say? What we do for ourselves usually dies with us. What we do for others, lives beyond us.
5 week Leadership Challenge, Patrick Leddin
Tony Evans Bible Commentary
Legacy, Chris Hodges
The Harbinger II, Jonathan Cahn
Leaving a Godly Legacy, Charles Stanley
Leadership NOT by the Book, David Green