Leaving a Legacy

But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:5)

Each of us is leaving a legacy. Every day we are adding something to the portrait of our lives, and eventually what we leave behind—our decisions, our contributions, our priorities—will remain, at least for a time, for others to reflect upon and consider.

At the end of Paul’s second letter to Timothy, we find the words of an older man whose life was coming to an end: “I am already being poured out as a drink offering,” he says, “and the time of my departure has come” (2 Timothy 4:6). In this context, he exhorts Timothy to take his responsibilities seriously, to consider his legacy, and to contemplate both the helpful and harmful legacies left behind by many that Paul encountered.

In the opening chapter, Paul had reminded Timothy that “all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes” (2 Timothy 1:15). These individuals receive one mention in the Bible, and it is to record the fact that they deserted a man in need. Paul also warns Timothy to be on his guard concerning people like Hymenaeus and Philetus, whose “talk … spread like gangrene” and who “swerved from the truth,” or like Alexander the coppersmith, who, Paul says, “did me great harm” (2:17-18; 4:14). When we look at the portraits these individuals left behind, we see a legacy of desertion, false teaching, and opposition to the gospel.

But Paul’s letter is also replete with mention of those who left helpful, beneficial legacies. For example, Lois and Eunice demonstrated sincere faith, which Paul is certain now dwells in the young pastor Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5). Likewise, Paul exhorts his protégé to remember Onesiphorus, who “often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me” (v 16-17). Onesiphorus left behind a legacy of faith, courage, and conviction. If he said he’d be somewhere, he was there. He was a man on whom Paul could fully rely.

We are all leaving a legacy. When we walk out of a room, either we leave behind the aroma of Christ that spreads the knowledge of Him everywhere (2 Corinthians 2:15-16), or we are leaving the less pleasant smell of self-promotion or the vacuum of saying and being nothing much at all. A legacy of faithfulness, godliness, kindness, gentleness, honesty, integrity, love, and peace is a legacy that will be remembered with affection. But most importantly, it will point people to the one whose life matters most—the Lord Jesus. 

A legacy is the accretion of daily decisions to make a difference for Christ: to love Him and love our neighbor, to pursue peace and speak of Him. Today, you will build a small—or perhaps major—part of your own legacy. So do the work God has prepared for you to do and make a difference for Him. After all, we never know when we’ve just made our final deposit in the legacy we’re leaving.

Devotional material is taken from Truth For Life Daily Devotional by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company. Used by Truth For Life with written permission.