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Your Legacy Isn't the Issue

When your limited time on earth comes to an end, what do you hope to leave behind?
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When your limited time on earth comes to an end, what do you hope to leave behind? Are you striving to make a name for yourself that gets mentioned every now and then for years to come?

In the song "Centuries," Fall Out Boy sings about man's natural longing to make a permanent mark in this world: "Some legends are told, Some turn to dust or to gold, But will you remember me? Remember me for centuries."

It is interesting to listen to people who are plotting their legacy. And there is no shortage of folks who want their name to be remembered for the notable achievements they have accomplished.

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But then what? Is that all there is to life and death? A legacy? How will that particular ambition assist your soul once you exit this world? And yet even with its empty promises, this misguided longing nevertheless seems to highly motivate those who fantasize about their reputation beyond the grave.

Meanwhile, the people who leave an eternal mark on history are those who are grounded in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They help others experience a close relationship with Christ, which culminates in spending eternity with the Lord in heaven. Now that's a lasting legacy if there ever was one! And it keeps the proper focus on the only Person who can deliver peace to your soul throughout eternity.

When the Gospel of Jesus Christ is your driving passion, it frees you from the empty pursuit of trying to make a name for yourself. Life is ultimately about Christ, and until a person realizes that fact, he is prone to spend his days wondering: "Will you remember me? Remember me for centuries."

Sadly, this pursuit winds up being nothing but a pipe dream. After all, even if your name ends up getting mentioned years from now, what will that do for you? One thing it won't do is benefit your soul in the slightest.

My friend, do you know Jesus? Are you aware that He died for your sins on the cross, and then rose from the grave on the third day? Here is some wonderful news: Christ can change your life for eternity, and the Lord will also bring your loved ones to heaven if they place their faith in the Messiah. And the best part of this eternal message is that it's true!

Once you accept Christ as your Savior and rely upon His death for the forgiveness of your sins, you enter an entirely new realm of awareness. And your priorities change drastically. You then live with an eternal perspective because you realize that only Jesus can provide people with never-ending joy.

How foolish for man to worry about his own legacy, and to go to his grave clutching the proud goal of being remembered by the world for years to come.

Other than your family, most people do not need to remember you. People do, however, need to know the Savior. They need to receive the free gift of salvation Christ earned for us on the cross. (Romans 6:23) In short, they need the grace of God to convert their soul by the power of the Holy Spirit. (John 3:8)

By means of comparison, you and I can't buy a person even one extra minute beyond their appointed hour of death. In order to gain safe passage beyond the grave, people need to know God. They don't need to know about our personal accomplishments.

There are of course a handful of Christians by virtue of their calling and their humility who tend to be remembered for generations. Billy Graham is now 99 years old, and he was certainly one of the shining lights of the 20th century. Billy's "life verse" hangs on the wall in his bedroom and reflects the heart of this faithful evangelist: "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Galatians 6:14)

In the preaching ministry that took him around the world, Billy wanted all the glory to go to Christ. And yet like John the Baptist who pointed to the Messiah, Billy's name will be remembered by scores of people even though this preacher was not seeking to create a legacy for himself. He was simply running the race God gave him to run, and he was compelled by the Holy Spirit to point people to Christ rather than to himself.

Billy's message was always much different than the song by Fall Out Boy. Rather than preaching, "Remember me for centuries," Billy preached, "Remember Christ. Trust Christ. Accept Christ. Come to Christ and be saved."

You see, this devoted evangelist realizes that a person could know Billy Graham personally and yet not make it into heaven. It's only by knowing Jesus that a person is granted eternal life in paradise. No wonder Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me." (John 10:14)

This encourages those of us who know Christ to stay focused on the main thing. After all, there is no supernatural power in people remembering us. And so when Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper for believers, He said, "Do this in remembrance of me." (Luke 22:19) Now that's a legacy worth celebrating!

The only thing that can break the stranglehold of sin and death is the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Until a person's faith is rooted in Christ and in those two powerful historical events, I suppose it's only natural to be obsessed with your own legacy. And it is indeed tragic that so many lost souls go to their grave with misplaced priorities, and with an eye on their legacy rather than on Jesus.

Thankfully, there is still time to become "wise for salvation" (2 Timothy 3:15) if you have not yet trusted Christ as Savior. "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved." (Acts 16:31) And then you can start to concentrate on the eternal brilliance of Christ and His never-ending kingdom, rather than the fading glimmer of your own legacy.

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Wellspring Church in Papillion, Neb. He is a regular contributor to The Christian Post.

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