Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” (Revelation 14:12-13)
Leaving A Legacy
Great men seek to leave great legacies. From the ancient Pharoah of Egypt who built colossal works preserved for thousands of years, to philanthropists of the modern age who leave millions of dollars to develop and maintain museums, theatres, charities, and parks, the obsessive need to leave a lasting legacy is found in the futile attempts for human immortality. The Pharaohs built pyramids, ancient kings constructed vast cities, despots created statutes and temples to honor their accomplishments, and museums filled with the antiquities of legacy-seeking men wanting to leave a part of their lives for generations. Sadly, in time, few people know the names of those who sought to establish a dynasty of remembrance for what they accomplished in life. Museums and temples crumble and fall, names are forgotten, and one man’s efforts to be remembered are lost in the dust pile of history.
What is a legacy? The heritage of a man’s life is limited to a small frame of time that is quickly forgotten. He can leave millions of dollars to preserve his memory, but he is soon forgotten. The futility of the human pursuit of immortal glory is the inability of humanity to maintain the story. Time washes away the name, the influence, the contribution, and the legacy. Everything a man works for is lost. J. Paul Getty left $661 million to a museum that bears his name that one day no one will know who he is, and the buildings housing his artwork will be destroyed. That is the fate of all things men build, and there is no lasting legacy. The Vanderbilt legacy of the Biltmore House will be gone one day, as will the legacy of Andrew Carnegie and Carnegie Hall. All of these philanthropic contributions have value but only for a short time. Legacies are short-lived.
John writes in the Revelation of a legacy that never dies. The early saints suffered under the oppressive hand of persecution. It seemed hopeless for the people of God, but there was a brighter day for those who remained faithful. Death did not diminish the power of the gospel but only enhanced it. Many of the early Christians died at the hand of persecution. Their faith and devotion to the Lord became a legacy that lived on in the lives of the church. Like the great chapter of faith in Hebrews, names became testimonies of faithfulness, devotion, holiness, and love for succeeding generations that still resonate today. Noah died thousands of years ago, but his story is on the lips of children who marvel at the story. Abraham has been buried for eons of time, and his story gives hope to troubled lives. The early Christians faced a harsh world, and yet the voice of Stephen still echoes in the halls of faith, and Paul’s courage to face death with a godly resolve is a lasting legacy.
All men must die. Many chose to fill their lives with building a legacy of human accomplishments, which is vanity. The greatest treasure a man can leave is the image of Jesus Christ. A father and mother who teach their children about God to serve the Lord all the days of their lives leave the greatest legacy a man can possess. There is a heavenly host of godly saints who, in death, left a lasting mark upon the hearts of God’s people through their legacy of faith. Many names are lifted up in honor that few people will know, but for the chosen few that were guided to Christ by that man or taught the Bible by that woman, a divine legacy of truth will never leave their hearts. Life insurance will only leave a monetary blessing that will be wasted and forgotten. The greatest gift given in death is the legacy of Jesus Christ. Their works will follow them. For many generations.