“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7
Do you ever wonder what kind of legacy you’ll leave behind?
I remember an older gentleman from one of the churches I pastored. He was the epitome of grace toward others; and he was deeply loved by his wife, his daughters, and his sons-in-law. In fact, his sons-in-law kneeled by his bed as he died. Afterward, one of his daughters wrote me a letter. At the end of the note, she concluded with these powerful words: “Our world has lost a righteous man, and in this world, that’s no small thing.”
I love the legacy expressed in those simple words from the pen of an admiring daughter. It reminds me of the heart of Paul as he wrote to his friend Timothy. Paul had expended himself in the service of Christ and had a keen sense that he was nearing the end of his life. We know from his writings to other churches that he was not afraid of death. In fact, he clearly stated that if he were absent from the body, he would be present with the Lord (1 Corinthians 5:3). The resurrection had defeated the sting of death (1 Corinthians 15:55), and Paul couldn’t wait to meet his Savior.
As Paul pondered the end of his life, he made three very simple statements about his legacy. He had “fought the good fight”—standing firm as a spiritual warrior, clothed in the armor of God, faithfully defending the truth of the gospel. He had “finished the race”—ensuring in the process that he was neither disqualified nor disheartened in the marathon of life and ministry. Most importantly, he had “kept the faith”—remaining true, committed, and loyal to the One who rescued him from sin and darkness.
Notice that Paul’s brief statements here say nothing about the education he had received, the places he had traveled, the letters he had written, the people he had preached to, or the churches he had planted. He flat out wanted his legacy to be labeled as “faithful.” I love that! It’s what I want to aspire to as a follower of Jesus.
So, I have to ask myself, “If that’s the kind of legacy I want to leave, how would I pursue it today?” Well, it means that my choices need to be more about “fighting the good fight.” I need to put on the spiritual armor each morning, as Paul told the Ephesians to do, and live to be victorious in all that comes my way. I need to be running the race to win, putting off all that hinders and the sins that entangle (Hebrews 12:1). And, it means that in every situation I want my attitudes, my words, and my actions to be loyal and true to Jesus.
As Paul told the Philippians, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Hebrews 3:13-14). There’s no better time than the start of this New Year to set our sights on new goals that will, over time, develop a legacy worth leaving.
Building a legacy worth leaving behind begins today and is made one decision at a time. Live this year to hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” In my book, that’s a legacy worth living for!
- Spend a few minutes thinking about the legacy you would like to leave. How does that compare to Paul’s desired legacy expressed in 2 Timothy 4:1-22?
- What type of legacy will the current choices and priorities of your life lead to? Are there some changes that need to take place today to move you back toward a legacy of faithful service to Christ?
- The good news for each of us is that God’s grace is available to forgive, cleanse, and refocus us today! He can use whatever time you have left to bring glory and honor to Him.