Message of the Week: Legacy
Last week I was reading a short editorial article written by James Meredith. He was writing of the rich history of the National Football League. He recounted stories of the all-time greats such as Raymond Berry, Walter Payton and Deon Sanders. He wrote of coaches such as Tom Landry and Tony Dungy who not only impacted their teams and the league, but touched millions of fans through their examples of character and leadership. His article was simply titled "Legacy."
As I sat behind my desk, my thoughts wandered through the memories of my life. I thought of my childhood and teen years growing up in the Yuba City/Marysville area. I thought of my early adult years including marriage, starting a family and establishing a business followed by over two decades in ministry. Most of my memories were inundated with good thoughts of friendship, love, marriage and family. As I sorted through the memories of my life, I began to wonder what legacy I would leave.
I turned to a passage in the Bible found in 1 Peter, Chapter 4. The Apostle Peter left clear instructions in his letter to a struggling, suffering church which was scattered throughout Asia Minor. In this letter he mentions the word "suffering" 16 times. In response, the letter communicated words of love, encouragement and some practical counsel for life. The church wholeheartedly received his message and flourished under very difficult circumstances. This suffering church left a legacy of faith, love, compassion, giving and endurance.
In the first 11 verses of Chapter 4, we learn the secret of building and leaving a legacy that will continue to impact our world long after we are gone.
First, the author writes in verse 7, we are to be people of prayer. "…be earnest and disciplined in your prayers." It is not only important that we pray, but we need to be real with God in our prayers. We need to be open and honest. We need to lift our requests and needs to God, but to pray for others as well. Fervent and disciplined prayer requires patience, perseverance and persistence.
Secondly, he encourages us to love one another in verse 8: "Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins." Jesus earlier spoke of love in this way, "Love each other, just as I have loved you…." Jesus loved us with a sacrificial love. He gave up everything, even his life that we might be forgiven, healed, restored and reconciled to God. We must love each other in the same way.
Next, Peter instructs us to be kind and hospitable. In verse 9 he states, "Cheerfully share your home with those that need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift … Use them to serve one another." He encourages us to not only pray for each other and to love one another, but to open our hearts, lives and gifts to bless and serve one another.
We see an example of this in the early church found in Acts 2:42-47. They demonstrated their love by living life together. They loved and learned together. They shared meals and worshipped together. They served and met the needs of people together. Kindness, hospitality and service are the natural outward expression of an inward love for God and people.
In conclusion, Peter spoke of legacy in verse 11: "Then everything you do will bring glory to God." Peter speaks of how you and I may or may not, be remembered. He wrote of the legacy we might leave. He speaks of a life that brought glory and honor to God.
Just as the all-time great players and coaches of the National Football League left a legacy of talent, work ethic, honesty and leadership that will touch and impact generations to come, may our lives leave a legacy of a people who loved God, who loved their families and served to meet the needs of others in our communities. May we be known as people who lived life that brought honor and glory to our God.
Bruce Glines is pastor of Sutter Community Church, 2900 Acacia St., Sutter. Message of the Week appears on Saturdays.