About a year and a half ago my wife started telling me that I was morbid. Not because I have an interest in death, or I watch scary movies, or anything like that. She started calling me morbid, because the last several times we’ve visited with my parents, I’ve brought up the subject of them having a will.
Now I don’t bring up the subject as if I’m the prodigal son, trying to get my cut of my parent’s estate. Rather, the more I live in Quartzsite the more it’s pressed upon me that we are not always going to be here. I don’t know if you know that. And I have seen people pass away, without having a well thought out plan about what will happen to their estates when they leave it behind.
Now, some people don’t care. They say things like, “What would I care, I’m gone.” But I have watched families struggle trying to get everything in order. I have seen families fight about who gets what.
And so, I just want to make sure that my parent’s wishes are fulfilled. What is it that they want? Are those wishes clear? And is there a clear way of implementing everything when the time comes? Personally, I don’t have emotional attachments to anything my parents have. And so, there’s nothing that I really want from them. All I want, is for their legacy to continue. And I don’t mean the legacy of their stuff. I mean the legacy of their lives.
Growing up, I never really knew my grandparents. My parents kept us away from them, because they were either very abusive, or they lived lives that my parents didn’t want us to experience.
But I want my kids to know their grandparents. Both my wife’s and mine, because I think they’re great people. They love God, their generous, and their fun to be around. That is the legacy I want to live on. A legacy that builds up, and doesn’t tear down. I don’t want to see, at the end of my parent’s lives, the legacy that had been built into their children and grandchildren, come falling down, because a will wasn’t there or wasn’t clear.
And that’s where we come to the beginning of our sermon series on Legacy. For the next few weeks we’re going to be talking about leaving a biblical legacy. Now we’re going to intertwine the personal biblical legacy that God calls us to, with the ministry legacy of the Alliance Church here in Quartzsite.
But here’s a spoiler for the sermon series: the personal legacy is not about money, while we might touch on the topic of money, this sermon series is not about our earthly wealth.
Legacy is defined as; anything handed down from the past… Can that be money? Yes, but there’s a greater legacy that we who have put our trust into Jesus as our Savior are called to. And it’s the greater biblical legacy that we are going to talk about. So let’s jump into it.
If you have your Bibles, we’re going into 2nd Timothy chapter 3, starting in verse 10.
As we get into 2nd Timothy 3:10, lets find out where we’re at. Since this is a 2nd Timothy, that means there was a first. The first one was written about three years prior. Both are written to Timothy, and both are written by Paul. Timothy was one of Paul’s proteges, and someone Paul left behind to do ministry in the city of Ephesus. Paul’s first letter was to teach Timothy how to be a leader of a church. But Paul’s second letter is very different.
In the first letter, Paul is very much thinking about the here and now. How to lead a church, how to recognize the attributes of Elders and Deacons, how to see false teachings that will inevitably seep their way in. All of it has a focus on carrying out the work that needs to be done now, in this present time. Paul even states in chapter 3 verse 14 of his first letter, “Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, 15 if I am delayed…” Paul is thinking about visiting Timothy, he might be delayed, but his goal is to visit his protege again.
But Paul’s second letter is very different. Instead of a pure focus on the here and now, Paul focuses’ on the future to come. Paul encourages Timothy to be faithful to the end, to be a workman approved by God, to not get involved in useless quarreling, and how in the last days there will be godlessness. Paul’s focus has shifted from the work of the here and now, to the time ahead.
And it’s at the end of this letter that we pick up Paul’s words in chapter 3, starting in verse 10. Let’s read.
3:10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
4:1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
We tend to hear, or read, or even recite Paul’s words in verse 7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” These words are good, but it’s not the full legacy that Paul wants Timothy to receive.
Paul starts off with, “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured.”
Paul tells Timothy, you know what my life has been like. The pain, the suffering, and the love and purpose of it all. Paul tells Timothy, you know the teachings that I’ve given to you. But it’s not until verse 1 of chapter 4 that we really get into the legacy Paul desires Timothy to receive.
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:”
We tend to start thinking about legacy when death is knocking on our door. Paul is literally in the last year of his life. Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy when he still thought he’d be around to visit him. But now, three years later, Paul is in a situation, where he is focusing on meeting his Savior. Everything else is dropping away, and only legacy is in view.
So he tells Timothy in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, here is your charge from me. Here is the legacy I desire to pass on to you.
“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”
Paul tells Timothy, preach the word, being ready at any moment to do so. And then in verse 5, Paul tells Timothy, buckle down and do the work that God has called you to you. Don’t worry about these other things that will happen. Don’t worry about people leaving you to hear other messages that tickle their ear. No, Timothy, you do what God has called you to do.
And it’s in this context, this context of being at the end of this life, of sending the next generation off, that we get Paul’s oft so quoted words in verse 7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
In other words, I have done everything that God has called me to do, now Timothy follow my example. Live within the legacy I am leaving behind, the legacy you have watched me build all these years.
This is an Elijah and Elisha moment of the Old Testament. Elijah was the Paul, and Elisha was his Timothy. The mantle, the garment, the legacy of Elijah passed to Elisha.
This is what biblical legacy is, the passing of the torch of the word of God from believer to believer. From the old in the faith, to the new in the faith.
This ministry of the Alliance Church was started, when godly men and women took up the legacy of reaching people. That legacy has been passed down for the last 40 years. You and I have been given the responsibility to continue the legacy of God’s work here. Not to make the Alliance Church great, but to do the work that God has called us to.
This is the legacy that we have received, and we are to pass to the next generation. Are we willing leave it ready for them? Have we done what we can to leave them in a place to achieve greater work? Elijah gave Elisha a double portion of spirit. Paul gave the work in Ephesus that he started to Timothy. Jesus said to his disciples, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these (John 14:12)…”
Are we running the race in such a way, that the legacy we leave behind would be one that people would want to be a part of? Or are we running the race in such a way, that they just want to throw it out?
In June of 2018 I officially took over for Pastor Jeff as Lead Pastor of the Alliance Church here in Quartzsite. I see the legacy that Jeff has done here, and I want to continue to build on it. Because I see that Jeff ran the race and did as God led, and I want the double portion of Jeff, I want to pick up where he left off, I want to do greater things, because of the legacy he, and those before him in this ministry, have left.
And I want to challenge you to be a part of that work, to be a part of this legacy. To run it well, so that we can pass it on to the next generation, so that they can accomplish greater things.
So what is this legacy? Paul left no money, no land, no nest egg behind. Too often we think that legacy is synonymous with money. If I leave money, or land, or whatever behind, I will be remembered.
That might be true for one generation, but what about the one after that, or the one after that?
We tend to leave legacies of temporal wealth. Those things that can be forgotten in one generation. Those things, that Jesus says will pass away. I think there is a place for that. There’s a great richness in being able to give the next generation advantages of wealth that we have built up. And to show our beneficiaries that we care for them enough to give them something when we pass on.
But God calls us to legacies of eternal worth. This type of legacy shifts it’s focus from the temporary enjoyment of our beneficiaries, to the building of God’s Kingdom.
Legacies built on temporal wealth are used, fought over, divided, and forgotten. But Legacies built on eternal worth move the work of God forward, and lay the ground work for people coming to know Jesus as their Savior.
I’m not asking that you make the Alliance Church a beneficiary of your wealth. I’m echoing God’s call on your life, to work with me for God’s Kingdom.
And so I ask you, what type of legacy are you leaving behind? Will your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren see your legacy as temporal or as eternal? That is my question and the challenge for this week, is this: take some time, and evaluate your legacy, asking what is the legacy I’m leaving behind? Is is temporal wealth, or eternal worth?
Let us be people that leave legacies of eternal worth, so that the Kingdom of God may house even more people. Let’s pray.