Week of June 28

How to Build a Lasting Legacy

Read: Jonah 1-4; 2 Timothy 2

“. . .But the word of God is not bound!”
2 Timothy 2:9b, ESV


The word “legacy” rises to the surface of discussions in politics, business, and even in families because people are concerned with leaving something beneficial behind when they pass off the scene. Such a heritage is meant to guide future generations in their decisions for the good. Paul makes an interesting “legacy” statement to Timothy in this power-packed section of his letter. Let’s examine it today and see how it applies to our lives.

A Biblical Lens

A Bible commentator on this passage writes an eye-opening statement: “God buries His workers but continues His work” (Lock as quoted in NAC, 207). Well, that seems blunt, doesn’t it? He writes the truth because physical life on earth ends for all of us. Consider our focal passage today in 2 Timothy. Paul, the great missionary church planter and New Testament writer, passed off the scene. Boom! Place a period at the end of his “life’s sentence.” He tells Timothy, remember the living Jesus and the gospel because I will soon be deceased (2:8).

So, what is the point? Paul walks Timothy through the essence of his life and ministry. He tells him to remember “the gift of God.” Paul instructed his mentee to rekindle the fire of faith that had been embedded in his life. He wanted him to continue to make use of the spiritual gifts that had been given to him (1:6). He also reminds him to remain true to what he had been taught. In light of the spreading heresies around him in Ephesus, Timothy was challenged to call to mind the pure gospel that he had been taught. This was not a challenge to review his seminary lecture notes regularly, so to speak, but to live and abide in what he had learned (3:14-15). Do you see what I see? He does not leave the young man with instructions in securing the memory of Paul; instead, the clear message about Jesus!

The way to stay alive and growing is to pour one’s soul into the truths of the gospel. First, the resurrected and living Christ is to nourish one’s life (2:8a). He uses a Greek perfect tense here to mean that Jesus was raised from the dead and will continue to be so throughout eternity. Secondly, Jesus had the right legacy, so we are to cleave to the Messiah whose throne is eternal (2:8). Look, we are witnessing a massive social movement across America to tear down memorials that have questionable origins and have outlived their usefulness. Paul bluntly tells the young leader, “Son, do not build a memorial to me. Hitch your life to the living Jesus!”

Paul wanted the young man to know what each of us must accept. Honor the right person! Paul was in chains for the gospel. It appears that his imprisonment had worsened and that his future on earth was growing short. He wanted to make sure that all interpreted his life properly. He made certain that people did not admire his perseverance but were inspired to pursue Christ. Paul bore the physical hardship and suffering in order that others may not have to bear it (cf. Colossians 1:6; 4:8-15; NAC). This approach to life holds lasting moral significance. Are you with me? Good!

A Moral Pathway

I have lived long enough in life to witness a change in the generations from “The Great Generation” of visionaries and builders. The change in their seasons of service came gradually, due, in part, to the increased lifespan of these wonderful leaders and their longevity in places of service. I recall hearing one of these great leaders, who had retired, express his sadness that a building that had been acquired through great sacrifice was being sold.

Times had changed. His words stuck with me because he taught me a legacy lesson. He helped me to understand that such grief was not wasted but was healthy. I took time to consider the ministry impact of his life and the abundance of good that had taken place inside those walls. I thanked God for both. This point is where his true and lasting legacy continues; the one that we should emulate.

He was asked in an interview some time later what he considered to be the most joyful aspect of his many years in ministry. He replied, “My favorite and most joyful aspect has been to see persons saved from living death to abundant life through faith in Christ and the positive impact this has on families and society in general.” Ah. No mention of a building! Why? He was building upon the foundation of the living Christ and not on a concrete slab. He understands his place in God’s gospel ministry. His testimony and our passage today raise to our view a critical moral question: What good have we been left, and to what end will we apply it?

For Your Journaling

1. No matter your present age, pause to write down your legacy to this point. If your life on this earth were to end today, for what would you be remembered?

2. In light of today’s passage, write down the changes you choose to make in order to leave behind a “living gospel legacy.”

May all your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock