254. THE “DOS” AND “DON’TS” OF BUILDING A LEGACY
(The Faith Forum Series – Batch 7)
You want to leave a legacy? Then start with the Lord Jesus Christ. Let him be the foundation. Let him be your first consideration.
When seeking to build a legacy, one only has to read the Word of God, the Bible, to note the “dos” and “don’ts”. For example, when Lot, in the Bible, looked to Sodom and Gomorrah, he saw that the lands there were well-watered, just like the garden of the Lord and the land of Egypt. Genesis 13:10 says of him, “And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plan of Jordan, that it was well-watered every where before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt…”
I cannot say, as others have said, that Lot was covetous and loved money, as the scriptures do not say that. The Bible describes him as a just and righteous man (2 Peter 2:7-8) but clearly, when he looked at Sodom and Gomorrah as a place to relocate, he was thinking about what would be best for the provision of his family. He wanted to ensure that they would be in a place where they would be well fed, where they could be sustained, thrive and where his livestock (animals) would have ample food. He was clearly thinking therefore, that this place looked like it would be good for him, his family and their future generations.
However, there is no indication recorded in the Word, that he gave any thought as to the spiritual ramifications or any spiritual consideration about going to Sodom and Gomorrah. Maybe he was naive, maybe he was clueless. Maybe he didn’t know. Whatever may have been the case, there is no indication from the Word, that this man asked questions or thought through his decision with questions like: Who are the people that live there? Do they fear the true and living God? What are their practices? How may what they are doing, impact on me and my family?
It seems therefore that Lot wanted to build a legacy and saw the place as good but only saw it through physical eyes. He appeared to have looked at the physicality alone and so, went and lived in Sodom and Gomorrah based on this alone and what kind of legacy did he have? The answer is no legacy whatsoever.
For, first of all, while in Sodom and Gomorrah, he had no peace. Despite how well-watered the land was he was vexed with the filthy practices of the people around him. 2 Peter 2:7-8 states of him, “…just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)”
Apart from losing his peace internally in that place of ‘abundance’, it seems that he lost some of his daughters (those who were married to his ungodly sons-in-law and therefore perished along with them in Sodom and Gomorrah, when God intervened to destroy the land). These daughters aligned themselves in unequally yoked relationships with ungodly men, who were foolish men and therefore, these men did not receive wise counsel but laughed at it to their detriment. They perished in Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s daughters that were married to them seem to have perished as well and if Lot had grandchildren by virtue of those marriages, which it is highly likely that he had, then those grandchildren would have perished as well.
As if this was not enough, Lot lost his wife who, as they were escaping Sodom and Gomorrah, turned back, whether out of longing, sadness, worry for her married daughters who it appears perished in Sodom or curiosity. In doing so, she disobeyed God’s command and lost her life as a result.
Lot also lost all of his wealth and possessions, as he did not have time to pack up everything and leave when the angels of the Lord came to bring him and his family out.
What then did he inherit? The answer is nothing but a shameful legacy. For, having lost so much, his two unmarried daughters who had made it out alive with him, then went and got him intoxicated and through deception, got impregnated through him, in incestuous encounters.
And what came out of that? Not even a people that were spiritual but those upon whom God pronounced judgment and were therefore cursed, people that positioned themselves as enemies of Israel. These people were the Moabites and Ammonites. These people were eventually destroyed and so, this is what became of Lot and his aspirations for the future. There was no legacy left behind him, only shame. He ended up being the father of an ungodly people who were born in shameful circumstances and who went on to serve false gods, position themselves against God’s people and were cursed.
Lot could have never thought, that one decision, like where to set up himself and his family, could have cost him so much. There was nothing beautiful or lasting about his story. There is nothing recorded on the pages of the Bible as admirable about his legacy, only that which was shameful.
In his whole idea, vision and plan for the future, Sodom and Gomorrah looked like a place that would be good for him and his family to settle down but what did he inherit? Nothing. The dust. No legacy. For, a shameful legacy is no legacy. The end of Lot was the Moabites and the Ammonites.
A similar experience is noted in the account given of Naomi and her husband Elimelech. They were Israelites who left Bethlehem-judah, along with their two sons and went to Moab (of all places), seemingly because like Lot, they were focusing on the physicality and not the spiritual. There was a famine in Bethlehem-judah and speculatively, it seems that they reasoned, “You know what, this is not good for our family. We want to build a family and to provide for a family as we are thinking legacy, future generations. For our continuity, where do we go?”
They then decided to go to Moab for the building of that legacy. They left the people of God where the people of God were in Bethlehem-judah and of all places, went to the ungodly, shameful and cursed place of Moab. This was a place that, while it may have looked better physically in terms of food provision and financial stability, had a history of animosity with Israel, God’s people. The very existence of these people had arisen through a shameful circumstance but yet, of all places, this was where Naomi, her husband and their children went, in their thrust to build a legacy.
As stated before, just like with Lot, it seemed that this decision was made because they focused on the physicality and not the spiritual. In their thrust to build a legacy, they focused on what they could ‘see’ and what appeared to ‘look good’. They were walking it seems, by sight and not by faith. They therefore left the people of God (who God was able to take care of and provide for, wherever they were and even in a famine) and this family went to where the grass seemed greener, literally and metaphorically. Instead of putting confidence in God and staying put where they were they seemingly chose to put confidence in what they ‘saw’ in Moab as better prospects and so, went to live there.
And what did they inherit? What was the outcome? How did it all turn out? Were they able to build the legacy that they desired for their family?
Well, first of all, Naomi lost her husband, as Elimelech died. Naomi’s sons then got married to Moabite women, which was highly likely, as they were living in an ungodly land. Sadly, these sons then died and no children were produced from their marriages.
Naomi therefore found herself empty. Given that men were the main, if not sole breadwinners back in those days, the loss of her husband and two sons, would have also plunged her into a dire state of poverty. That which she had left Bethlehem-judah to avoid, still embraced her, although Moab had seemed like a good choice at the beginning, as a place that she and her family could thrive.
Naomi suffered so much loss and grief, that, when she returned empty to Bethlehem-judah with one of her daughters-in-law, Ruth (because she had heard that the Lord had provided food for his people in Bethlehem-judah), in summary of all the hardships, pain and loss that she had endured while in Moab, she told the people (who, maybe because of the toll that life had taken on her, wondered if it was indeed she), “Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.” (Ruth 1:20)
This was the product therefore, of Naomi and/or at least her husband’s decision, all those years prior. This was what she inherited. They had thought on their desire to build a legacy and so left Bethlehem-judah for Moab, where they thought their family would fare better but years later, no worthwhile legacy had been built, only pain, sterility, disappointment and hardship.
The lesson here is clear. When we, as Christians, walk by sight and not by faith, we are headed for disaster. We are headed for trouble. For, we could never build legacy, being guided by sight. The way to build legacy is to walk by faith, even as Abraham walked, where his faith was counted for righteousness (Romans 4:3).
Interestingly, in conversation with her daughters-in-law before returning to Bethlehem-judah, Naomi told them that she was grieved much for their sakes because “…the hand of the Lord is gone out against me” (Ruth 1:13). She also told the people of Bethlehem-judah when she returned, that “…the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me“, that “…the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me.” (Ruth 1:20-21). She also stated that, although she had gone out full, God had brought her home again empty. She therefore acknowledged that God in his sovereignty, had allowed all that had transpired in her life, to take place and in her mind, God had brought all the affliction and bitterness and grief that she had endured, upon her life. However, although Naomi acknowledged that it was the Lord that had brought her back to Bethlehem-judah and that it was him that had dealt bitterly with her, afflicted her and testified against her, she never said that it was God that had instructed her and her husband to go out in the first place. She never said that it was God that told her, like he did Abraham when he called him and told him to leave his father’s house and go out, that it was God that had told her to go out of Bethlehem-judah and into the land of Moab.
In fact, in verse 20, Naomi stated, “I went out full and the Lord hath brought me home again empty.” The operative word here is “I”. It therefore seems that going out was a decision that she and her husband made of their own volition, without seeking counsel from God. Of all that she had attributed to God as being responsible for, she never once said that he was responsible for them leaving Bethlehem-judah and relocating in the first place. This is significant, as when we seek to build a legacy, we must not go out on our own limb to see how we can fare for ourselves but we must wait on God and seek his guidance as to where to go and if to go.
When Naomi returned, empty and heartbroken, had it not been for the grace of God at that point (which operated through Ruth, Naomi’s daughter-in-law), Naomi would have been left with nothing whatsoever. However, in his grace and mercy, God intervened to bring about a marriage between Ruth and a godly, wealthy man called Boaz. Honouring Ruth’s selfless resolve and commitment to leave her people behind and to serve Naomi’s God, the Lord provided bountifully for her. He gave her a quality husband, food and a child, who then went on to be the grandfather of the second king of Israel. In short, what Naomi and her husband could not do for themselves, God did for Ruth. Despite her past and who her people were, he gave her a legacy, so much so that he caused an entire book in the Bible to be written about her story.
This highlights the fact that, when you want to build a legacy for you, your family and future generations, you need to build it with Christ. It starts with Christ. You MUST of necessity, consider the spiritual and put it first. Before making any decision that could impact on you and your family for generations to come, ask yourself, “What are the spiritual ramifications and considerations? I want to build something that will last, something sustainable. I want to build something that is beautiful, that other generations can benefit from and be blessed by. I want a legacy where others looking on down the road, can say, wow, God was in the middle of that! What then should concern me spiritually?”
You must consider the Lord and what will please him. You ought not to just consider the physical, the materialistic and you ought not to just ask yourself questions like, “Where will I be able to get money? Where would I be able to thrive physically? Where would I be provided for, financially?” and then go to the place that seems to fulfil these aspirations.
It may be God’s will for you to go to that place. I am not discounting that distinct possibility. However, what is best for your physical welfare, ought NOT to be the main consideration. Your main concern, if you are thinking of legacy, should be what would be best spiritually.
You want to build a legacy? Let it start with a consideration for the spiritual. You want to build a legacy? Let it start with the foundation being the Lord Jesus Christ.
Put him first. Put his will first. Put the Word of God first and let everything else come after.
This does not mean that you will not go through hardship. It doesn’t mean that things will happen overnight or in your desired timing. Case in point, in contrast to what Lot did, where he seemingly focused only on the physical and not the spiritual, there is Abraham, a man who lived his whole life focusing on the spiritual.
So focused was he on the spiritual, that when the Lord called him to leave his father’s house and all the comfort that that represented and to go out into a place that he had not a clue where he was going, he obeyed. He went out and dwelt under tents, something that does not seem, initially, to be a nice, comfortable life. Yet, he obeyed God’s call because (unlike Lot, Naomi and Elimelech who seemed focused on the physical), he was looking for a city whose builder and maker was God.
Hebrews 11:8-10 states of him:
- “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
Abraham understood that God was at the centre, the very core of his very periphery. God was in his vision for legacy and for him, it was therefore God or nothing. He allowed God to be planted at the very centre of all of his plans. In all his ways, he acknowledged him and this meant that wherever God wanted him to be, that was where he was going.
This did not mean that Abraham did not go through difficulty. For example, for years, despite all that the Lord had promised, he and his wife Sarah could not have children. Sarah only conceived when they were both very old, in God’s set time.
Despite whatever difficulties Abraham may have faced though, he persevered because he looked for a city which had foundations, where the builder and maker was God. Leaving the comfortable and going out into the unknown may not have been a bed of roses but for him, the Lord himself was his reward. He had no legacy outside of God and God was the one that helped him, as a mere human being unable to do anything worthwhile for himself.
The Lord told him and I am paraphrasing, “I am going to make of you a father of many nations. I am going to give you a son. Can you count the stars? You are going to have this amount of people come from out of your loins. I am the one that is going to give you a legacy.” (Genesis 12:2; 15:4-5;17:4-6)
And to this day and age, there is a legacy that Abraham has left. Why? Because he considered the spiritual over the physical. When the Lord told him to leave his father’s house and go out, he obeyed. He did not say, “No, I am not leaving this comfortable life behind for a life of the unknown and to start all over and to build from scratch” but instead, he trusted God, he believed him and it was counted unto him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6).
Genesis 15:1 states that, “After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.“
The Lord was basically highlighting a basic truth, that there was no inheritance, no legacy, no reward, without him, that unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain who build it (Psalm 127:1), that it is not by might, not by power but by his Spirit that the results come (Zechariah 4:6) and that outside of him, we as human beings, could do nothing (John 15:5).
Abraham therefore put the spiritual before the physical and by contrast to the life of Lot, we see how his life turned out. In fact, when his workers had an altercation with Lot’s workers before Lot had moved to Sodom and Gomorrah, once again, Abraham gave consideration to the spiritual over the physical.
The two sets of herdmen were contending over materialistic things, as, due to the amount of wealth that Abraham and Lot had amassed, the area was not enough to hold both of them, their animals and all that they had comfortably. Yet, valuing the spiritual over material possessions and therefore, knowing how important it was for brethren to dwell together in unity (Psalm 133), Abraham selflessly sought the path of peace to preserve unity between himself and Lot, who were relatives. Spiritually, he knew that it was not good for family to be fighting and to be at loggerheads. Materialism was not worth it. He therefore told Lot, “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.”
He then displayed the spiritual virtue of selflessness, by allowing Lot to choose where he wanted to go. He basically told him (and I am paraphrasing): “You decide and wherever you choose, I will go the next.” (Genesis 13:9). Why did Abraham do this and why was it so easy for him to do? It was because he appears to have reasoned, “Whatever you choose, I am good. The Lord is with me and so that is all that I need. Once I am in the presence of the Lord, I don’t need to fight over turf or seek out the best looking land. I will be fine.”
This therefore highlights for me the fact that, while we are all here in this world and for limited amounts of time and we all want to build a legacy, something sustainable that people could look at down the road and say, wow, this was beautifully built, this was a good testimony, we could never hope to build legacy or a beautiful, sustainable legacy, without the Lord Jesus Christ being at the helm of our lives (not just on our lips) and guiding our decisions.
It doesn’t matter if a person who is allowing the Lord to do this, ‘looks’ like he or she is going through a lot of upheavals, storms and difficulties in life. He or she serves a God that can rebuke winds and calm seas. If that person is being guided by Almighty God and considering the spiritual over the physical, I believe that the Lord will work things out for that person, even if not in this life, in eternity. For, Romans 8:28 tells us, “ …all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
If God decides to come through for such a person in this life, the path may take longer, it might seem more treacherous and at times, that person may feel weary and tempted to give up but thankfully, that person serves a God that is able to renew one’s strength as the eagle’s and he is faithful. The Lord will guide that person and enable that person according to his purposes, to build that sustainable legacy (as he did with Abraham).
In wrapping up, legacy does not start by just considering the physical, at the exclusion of the spiritual. We must consider the spiritual. We must ask questions like, where does God want me to be? What will you have me to do, Lord? (even as Saul asked the Lord when he had an encounter with him on the road to Damascus). This ought to be our mentality.
Once the Lord reveals what he will have us to and where he will have us to go, it is out duty, as servants, to obey and trust him, to build the legacy that he desires for your life.
Remember, we can’t build anything for ourselves. As pointed out earlier, the Lord Jesus Christ himself said that outside of him, we could do nothing. The Old Testament also reminds us that, unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain who build it. This tells us that we have no power of ourselves, to build anything that is sustainable or to build anything that is beautiful. God is the only one that could build something beautiful in our lives, through Jesus Christ his Son, by his power, might and grace.
In conclusion, on the “dos” and “don’ts” of building a legacy, DON’T ever try to build a legacy but how things ‘look’ or how they ‘appear’. DON’T align yourself with people (if you a child of God), simply because it ‘looks’ as if things will go well if you build some kind of relationship or business venture with them. DON’T align yourself in a relationship with someone for the purpose of marriage because of how that person looks or because that person is good looking or dresses well or has a good, stable job or a significant amount of money in the bank. DON’T get married to such a person because it ‘looks’ like that person will treat you well if you get together and you could be a powerhouse, somehow, together.
Even if the package they present looks good, if we want to build a legacy, we must consult with the Lord first. He is able to go beyond how things appear and guide us, based on how things really area. He leads not one of his children astray but they need to seek his counsel and his will on matters. We cannot not seek his counsel or seek his counsel and then disregard it or pretend we haven’t received it or ignore it and then try to build a legacy in our own strength, based on what looks good to our eyes and in our opinion. Lot went to Sodom and Gomorrah because it looked like a place that was well-watered and today, he has no legacy to show. He never bargained for the pain, shame and loss he would have suffered, when all was said and done.
DON’T align yourself with business opportunities, careers and jobs or go to live in a place simply because it ‘looks’ good. These things may look good and hold the promise or potential of having large payouts or returns (physically) but what are the implications spiritually on you and on your family? Will you have a sustainable legacy?
Dear daughter of God, DO build a legacy by focusing on the spiritual, putting God first, seeking his counsel as to what he will have you to do and where he will have you to go. As we have seen in the life of Abraham, you will never regret it.
(Written on 10th August, 2022)
Dear Reader, if you found the above Article to be interesting, informative, beneficial or edifying, you may also be interested in reading the following:
- Note 130 – ‘The Paradoxical Principles To Successful Living – God’s Manual’
- Note 200 – ‘No Turning Back, No Turning Back’
Under the ‘COURTING OR ENGAGED’ Daughters page:
- Note 12 – ‘How Are You Going To Get Ahead Without The Head?’
- Note 20 – ‘Is Your Relationship Foundation Strong?’
Under the ‘SINGLE’ Daughters page:
- Note 316 – ‘Married, At What Cost?’
- Note 276 – ‘Are You In Love With Money? People Who Loved Money To Their Detriment In The Bible’
Under the ‘BROKEN’ Daughters page:
- Note 34 – ‘Wisdom Is The Principal Thing’