What if we were as preoccupied with our faith legacy as our personal and familial ones? What does it look like to leave a legacy of faith behind for those following in our footsteps?
While I am no expert with sports, I am confident that God can use any and all pleasures to bring glory to His Name. Whether that be through the craft of dance, the symphony of a violin orchestra, or the swing of a baseball bat, the impact that these mediums leave on our lives is breathtaking.
In wonder, we stare at the man who hit a home run. With wide-eyed disbelief, we ponder how the woman turned consecutively in 19 pirouettes without getting dizzy. Around the world, people praise those who run yards and dash footballs into goals for a living. These people and their talents have imprinted legacies upon us that we, too, find ourselves wanting to embody in some way, shape, or form. But what if we were as preoccupied with our faith legacy as our personal and familial ones? What does it look like to leave a legacy of faith behind for those following in our footsteps?
Hebrews 11 I known as the Faith Heroes Hall of Fame. And I don't know about you, but if I get to choose and influence which Hall of Victory and Legacy I'm left in, I sure as heck want it to be the faith one!
While the author of Hebrews is often debated, it is suggested that the Apostle Paul wrote this work in A.D. 70. Amid persecution and trials, Hebrews includes appeals, warnings, and encouragement to the Jewish Christians. In such an address, it is noted that the mature Christian should set their eyes on Jesus and how His sacrifice replaced the Old Testament covenants of sacrificial living. Without the stress of maintaining the Law, they were asked to follow Jesus (the Law of Life), the author and true perfector of our faith.
The people mentioned in this account thus represent this faithful call to living. But to understand how to replicate their way of living, we must first define what it means to have faith and how we can possess it before leaving it behind.
What Is faith?
According to Hebrews 11:1 in the NLT, faith is "confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." As verse 2 follows, it's this faith that the ancients or Hall of "Faith-ers" were known and commended or praised for while here on earth. The Passion Translation defines these verses as what brings our hopes into reality and "becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for." Through these hopes, we then have "all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen."
If faith is a foundation, it is then imperative to note that we have to build upon the suitable surface to flourish, grow, fulfill its intended purpose, and evidently, leave something behind that others can develop and mature into their own.
How do we build upon our faith?
Once we have a solid grasp of what faith is, we must move from knowledge to action. As faith without works or works without faith is dead, our words with mere acknowledgment but little movement rest stagnant.
James chapter 2, verses 14-19 frame this context with excellence:
"What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don't show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, 'Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’—but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn't enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, ‘Some people have faith; others have good deeds.’ But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you don't have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.’ You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.”
Having faith in solitude isn't enough. It isn't enough to say, "I believe in Jesus," and go on your merry way. Similarly, however, it also isn't wise to volunteer all hours of every day to service, but not be able to believe that God will provide for the many poverties you may face daily. True faith rests in the premise that we believe that which God has promised. Therefore, we can act in boldness, knowing He who promises keeps His Word.
If you want to build your faith, it starts with believing what God said He'd do in your heart but then living out the actions that replicate that. As the examples above reveal, Abraham and Rahab are merely a few of the thousands that lived this faith out.
By radical obedience, Abraham knew that the God who gave him a son he waited years for would give him back if he had to kill him. He trusted God in that unforeseen situation and essentially said, "God, I don't know what you're doing, and this doesn't make sense, but my faith will lead in action and deed. I trust you. I believe every word you say is true.” Yet, even if God didn't spare his son, he knew the cost of following Jesus and believed it to be worth it. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, I think Abraham's heart would have sung Daniel 3:17-18, too.
"If the God whom we serve exists, then He is able to deliver us from the blazing fiery furnace and from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden statue you have set up" (Daniel 3:17-18. NLT).
How to Leave a Legacy of Faith
Like our ancestors that Hebrews 11 and James 2 write about, to qualify for the Great Hall of Faith, we must have faith that boldly declares Jesus but also lives it out. And the best way to do this, I believe, is by spending time with God, sharing Him with others, and practicing what you preach.
Here is how to do this:
1. Spending Time with God
If you want others to remember you for your faith, you must be willing to live that faith out. One cannot profess with their mouth that they believe in God and then not live it out; to do so is the definition of fraud. Jesus tells us in Revelation 3:16 not to be lukewarm but instead hot or cold. Our faith must firmly rest rooted and dedicated to the Lord alone, and the only way to show that is by spending quality time with Him.
Just as a spouse or significant other feels loved by the hours, minutes, and seconds you spend with them, Jesus wants to feel that love, though He does not need or depend on it the same way. By reading the Word daily, talking to Him throughout the day, praying, going to Church, and serving the world as Christ does the Church, you will display a legacy that others wish to follow.
2. Sharing Him with Others
In Matthew 28:16-20, Jesus commands His disciples of the already and the not yet to make disciples of all nations, proclaiming His name throughout the world. Beyond our intimate and personal relationship with Jesus, we must share that testimony and invitation with the world. "And how can they believe in the one about whom they have not heard" (Romans 10:14, KJ21)?
As a high school English teacher at a public institution, you better believe that my students know I love Jesus. Though I must adhere to the stipulations that prevent me from blatantly declaring the gospel, I think that God can and will work through every situation. Whether you are digging ditches or working as a Helpdesk Support Technician, you don't have to cross the world to tell others about Jesus. Let them see Him through who you are, and don't shy away from opportunities the Lord blesses you with daily.
If you want to leave a legacy of faith behind, it starts by pouring into the relationship you have and then encouraging others to participate in that kinship as well.
3. Practicing What You Preach
In James 1:22-25, James, the brother of Jesus, pens these words:
"Don't just listen to the Word of Truth and not respond to it, for that is the essence of self-deception. So always let his Word become like poetry written and fulfilled by your life! If you listen to the Word and don't live out the message you hear, you become like the person who looks in the mirror of the Word to discover the reflection of his face in the beginning. You perceive how God sees you in the mirror of the Word, but then you go out and forget your divine origin. But those who set their gaze deeply into the perfecting Law of liberty are fascinated by and respond to the truth they hear and are strengthened by it—they experience God's blessing in all that they do!” (James 1:22-25, TPT)
Today, the same applies to us who have hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Suppose we want others to continue leaving legacies in Jesus' Name. In that case, it is our duty and responsibility to make sure that they not only see an accurate representation of Jesus within us but want to possess one themselves. Nothing pains my heart more than seeing someone say they love Jesus and then treat others with evil discontent.
Although we've all at times fallen away from the one we love and dedicate our hearts to, that's the beauty of faith and our salvation through Jesus Christ alone. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--" (Ephesians 2:8, NIV). Leaving a legacy of faith behind has never been about Abraham, Rahab, or the multitudes listed for our example, but who they point us to by demonstration. The best way to leave a legacy of faith behind is to point to the author of faith who gives us that privilege.
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/sticker2you
Amber Ginter is a teacher, author, blogger, and mental health activist who resides in the beautiful mountains and cornfields of Ohio. She loves Jesus, granola, singing, reading, dancing, running, her husband Ben, and participating in all things active. She’s currently enrolled in the Author Conservatory Program and plans to pitch her book: Mental Health and the Modern Day Church for Young Adults, soon. Visit her website at amberginter.com.
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