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Legacy Is Spelled L-O-V-E

Legacy Is Spelled L-O-V-E

By David Jeremiah

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In November 2017, the New York Times published an article with a list of jobs people were most likely to inherit from their mothers or fathers. The list covered a wide spectrum of vocations from fishers and textile workers to doctors, lawyers, human resource managers, and military personnel. One person who was interviewed said his parents’ approach to work “as a passion rather than a chore” inspired him to follow in their footsteps and become a scientist.1  Whatever the driving factor, it is clear that our parents have a substantial impact on who we become.

The bond that comes with passing down a trade to our children carries a unique sense of legacy. It’s as if our passion for the work gets in their blood, causing future generations to carry it on.

Can You Spell L-O-V-E?

What is at the heart of a legacy? What makes a child follow in his or her parents’ footsteps? If I had to say it in a word, it would have to be “love.”

What is at the heart of a legacy? If I had to say it in a word, it would have to be “love.”

Basketball legend Pete Maravich wrote in his book, Heir to a Dream, about the basketball legacy he inherited from his father and coach, Press Maravich. See if you can find the idea of “love” throughout what he wrote:

As I look back now, I finally feel as though I understand my inheritance. Dad handed me something beautiful and precious, and I will always be indebted to him. He gave me his life, full of instruction and encouragement. He gave me hope in hopeless situations, and laughter in the face of grim circumstances. Dad gave me an example of discipline unequaled, dedication unmatched. He gave me the privilege of seeing an unwavering faith when the darkness of life and death surrounded him. But more than anything else, my father became a symbol of what love and compassion can do in anyone’s life. And I am happy to accept that love as his heir to a dream.

Think about the way Jesus Christ carried out the legacy of love His Heavenly Father passed on to Him—and the way He desired to pass on that same legacy of love to us:

And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.... And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them (John 17:22-24, 26, emphasis added).

Jesus told His disciples, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21). Three generations of the legacy existed even before Jesus returned to the Father. He received the legacy from His Father and passed it on to His disciples, whose job it became to pass it on to their own physical and spiritual children all over the world.

Legacy Is Spelled L-O-V-E

I believe the children who follow their parents’ footsteps catch the vision of their parents for the same reason Jesus’ disciples caught His vision: love. In the case of Jesus’ legacy, the legacy itself is love—love for God. But love is also the method for passing on that legacy. Love is both the means and the end.

When children see their parents doing things they genuinely love to do, things that make them happy, things they sacrifice to be part of, things they talk about constantly, things that make them laugh and enjoy life... those children stand a good chance of catching the vision and enjoying those same things as well. 

Thankfully, love of God is not a vocation. Parents have a life-changing opportunity to pass along a lifestyle... a worldview... a mindset... a faith that can be carried throughout life regardless of what a child chooses to pursue vocationally.

But what if a child rejects our legacy? As a pastor, I have seen parents grieve over what appears to be a break in their family’s legacy of faith. In such cases, parents have to remember that they are not ultimately responsible for their children’s faith, that God’s plans for our children are not ours to know, that God can make up for the “years that the swarming locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25), and that unbelieving children often return to the faith of their parents. Indeed, children who waver in their faith as young adults often end up becoming strong believers once they embrace Christ. Having tried life without Him, they understand the emptiness of such an existence.

Investing in the next generation can be messy, even discouraging at times, but God’s eternal purposes do not depend on us.

Investing in the next generation can be messy, even discouraging at times, but God’s eternal purposes do not depend on us. Wherever we are in the legacy chain of passing on the love of God to our children and grandchildren, or to any young child within our sphere of influence, let’s continue walking in the love of Christ. Let’s leave our children the lasting legacy of love that the Father left His Son, and that He has left to us.

1“The Jobs You're Most Likely to Inherit From Your Mother and Father.” https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/11/22/upshot/the-jobs-youre-most-likely-to-inherit-from-your-mother-and-father.html (accessed August 11, 2020)

This article originally appeared in the November 2006 issue of Turning Points devotional magazine. Request your complimentary subscription today!

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