“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them” (James 4:13-17).
Dr. Alfred Nobel was astonished to find his own obituary in a French newspaper in 1888. Even more startling was the headline: “The merchant of death is dead.”
Nobel, the Swedish chemist who invented dynamite and owned numerous armament factories, was in fact quite alive. His brother Ludvig had died the day before, but several newspapers erroneously published Alfred’s obituary.
The story in the French newspaper began: “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.”
The article caused Nobel to begin thinking about how he would be remembered when he died. He didn’t want to be known as “the merchant of death,” so he sought to change his legacy.
Today, most of us know Alfred Nobel as the founder of the Nobel Prize, which is awarded annually to innovators in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace. Nobel left the bulk of his vast fortune to establish the Nobel Prize when he died in 1896.
We all will leave a legacy behind when we are gone. It’s not measured in terms of money or property; it’s measured by the Godly influence we have on our family, our friends and our neighbors.
Near the end of his life, John the beloved disciple found joy in seeing how his legacy would endure: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4).
How can we leave behind a Godly legacy? It begins with living as Jesus lived—loving God and loving others. What we say and do can positively or negatively influence the people God has placed in our path.
Psalm 112:1-2 says, “Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.”
What’s the best time to begin building a legacy? Now. No one knows how long they have on this earth.
“‘All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever’” (Isaiah 40:6-8).
>What are some practical ways to build a Godly legacy?
>Who has had the most influence on your life and how did that person gain access to influence you?
>How do you feel when you think about life being a vapor?