A while back, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about a new trend in estate planning. It reported that some parents were opting out of leaving their assets to their kids and instead choosing to leave them an different kind of inheritance. They had taken the time to write down a statement of the virtues, or visions for life; those deep values and vital truths that they wanted to pass down as perhaps their greatest gift to their loved ones. Not a bad idea, if one has lived a life of virtues to pass on.
In many of the old cemeteries, you will find that some tombstones have inscriptions that can be poetic, comical or a list some virtues of the deceased. With that in mind, what would be engraved on your tombstone?
Ecclesiastes 6:3-4 says, If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he. For he cometh in with vanity and departeth in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness.
Solomon writes here that “his name shall be covered with darkness.” I find this to be an interesting way to express a profound truth. It could be paraphrased this way:
He will be forgotten having left no good reason to remember him.
Also, in Ecclesiastes 7 verse 1 it says, A good name is better than precious ointment. Then in Proverbs 22:1, A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.
A few years ago, I was speaking at a Christian conference and twice someone told me that they had heard me speak several years ago, but said that I didn’t look the same as I did then. It seems that there is another Christian speaker who is also an evangelist that shares my name. He was a very well-respected man of God and when they saw my name on the program they wrongly assumed that it was him.
I told them that I also knew of another person with my name that lived in the same area where I live. I’ve never met him, but over the years, his bad credit and reputation has caused me considerable grief. Later, I thought to myself, “I hope my name never causes anyone any difficulties.”
Our names are important. We should do what we can to protect our name as well as the virtues we have managed to establish. So, what kind of legacy will we leave behind? Will we be remembered as someone who was passionately committed to relationships; a relationship with God, first and foremost, that fortified our ability to relate to others? Our legacy will be determined by:
- How we treat those closest to us (family, friends)
- How we treat our fellow believers
- How we treat those we work with
- How we treat those we should minister to … those with the deepest hurts and needs
- How we treat the lost and the stranger, and finally,
- How we treat the Savior.
All of these have something in common. They all involve relationships.
The Lord willing, I will probably leave my daughter and grandchildren a few things of monetary value. But most of all, I want them to think of me as one who helped positively shape their lives and always point them to the Savior. I want to leave them a legacy of one who sought to be faithful to his relationship with God.
May we all leave a legacy of relationships, not that we might be praised, but rather that Christ will.