And giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:12-14 (NIV)
For most of us the word ‘legacy’ invokes an image of a wealthy individual leaving a large sum of money to his family or favourite charity. I remember the first time I heard the word. I was a young boy listening in on my mother’s conversation with her father. My grandfather, maybe frustrated with the conversation, said to my mother that when he died his legacy would go to the home for orphaned cats (he ended up leaving everything to his great grandchildren).
Some years later I was saved. One of the neat discoveries I made was that the Bible, although it never uses the word ‘legacy’, has a whole lot to teach us about it.
In the first place, the patriarchs of the Old Testament ensured the passing on of their legacy to their children. It was never taken lightly. They understood the value of handing down their spiritual, family, cultural, social, and political traditions. They also made provision for their financial and material inheritance to be passed on. From them I’ve learnt the importance of taking the time to share my faith and values with those who look to me as a physical or spiritual father.
In the New Testament I encountered the greatest of all legacies. The legacy left to every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, i.e. when we receive forgiveness for our sins and trust in Him by faith, we inherit the benefits of every promise in God’s Word and all the riches in His kingdom. For example, Colossians 1:12-14 reminds believers that they’re qualified “to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
That’s exciting stuff. In Christ we have something far greater than a financial or material inheritance. He’s passed on to us salvation, sanctification, and everything we need for success. In His Word, and through the work of His Spirit, He has left us with the memories and experiences that can mold our lives for good. This is “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” 1 Peter 1:4. A legacy of righteousness. A legacy that’s kept in heaven and “shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” 1 Peter 1:5. And it’s a legacy that each of us should be making every effort to pass on to the next generation.