Is Legacy Selfish?

legacy lessons Published on October 17, 2022

Legacy can be a confusing topic. Some might think the idea of legacy is selfish. If we think of legacy only as achieving a reputation or a name on a building, or just as financial wealth left behind, it certainly would be.

The truth is that we will all leave a legacy, whether we mean to or not. And perhaps “leave a legacy” is the wrong phrase. We will all be remembered for something. The memories will either be good or bad. Legacies are not neutral.

David McAlvany writes on this aspect in The Intentional Legacy:

“Legacy is an inescapable concept. We may choose to invest in our legacy, or we may choose to neglect it. But either way, you and I will leave one to our children’s children. Because human action is inescapable, legacy is inescapable.”

We are actually instructed to leave something behind. The Scriptures teach that parents are to teach truth to the children we leave behind (Psalm 78:4); we are to tell the stories of God’s faithfulness (Joshua 4:21-22); we are to leave an inheritance (Google what “inheritance” means) to even our grandchildren (Proverbs 13:22); we leave behind a good name, a good reputation (Proverbs 22:1).

But the bigger idea of legacy is the notion of what will last forever. It’s what we’ll see and experience in heaven. In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus commands us to lay up treasures in heaven rather than here on this earth.

He instructed the rich young ruler to forsake the riches he trusted in, to sell them, and give to the poor so that he might have “treasure in heaven.”

Paul gives us a picture of legacy in heaven. In I Corinthians 3:10-15, he presents the picture of how our works will be tested by fire. The fire will burn up the wood, hay, and stubble — those things done out of selfish motivation or worthless desires.

On the other hand, the fire will reveal that which is gold — the works that remain, the works that bring glory to God.

“We will all be remembered for something. The memories will either be good or bad. Legacies are not neutral.”

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