Read: Ecclesiastes 7:1-6
The Preacher in Ecclesiastes is now old, and is perhaps here looking back over his life as to what he has accomplished. He had tried any number of things, but what he had pursued left him empty, wanting more. He was never satisfied in his pursuits. In light of this though, the Preacher looks at other things in his life with particular regard to his legacy. He says that a good name is better than fine perfume and one’s death day is better than one’s day of birth. The Preacher is not being morbid, rather he is being introspective, and realizing how death causes one to look inwardly at one’s own life. Going to the house of mourning and having a sad face conjures up feelings of loss no doubt, but it also gives pause in one’s life. When death comes, it usually interrupts life such that people have a time or mourning for whomever it was that was lost, thinking about that person’s life and how that person impacted the lives of others. In the end, a person’s name is remembered as ad good or bad. The Preacher says that the common destiny of all, namely death, should be taken to heart so that when one does pass away, one’s name will be remembered.
Perhaps the best legacy one can have is a life that is lived in accordance with the ways of God. Proverbs 16:31 says that gray hair is a crown of splendor earned through a righteous life. Everyone knows that gray hair is caused by age, but the writer is saying that the respect do to those who are older is from one’s right living. Paul in all his turmoil says toward the end of his life that he has earned a crown of righteousness because he has “fought the good fight” and has “finished the race” (2 Timothy 4:6-8). The sort of legacy that Paul left behind was a life committed to the gospel. Paul calls his converts his “letters of commendation” (2 Corinthians 3:1-5). The believers in Corinth were a testament to what he had done. Psalm 71 speaks of one who has feared God from his youth. The Psalmist says that he declared the works of God, and asks God not to forsake him in his old age. Hebrews 11 enumerates many of those whose names are immortalized in the Bible. They all left a legacy by having faith in God.
The Preacher in Ecclesiastes 11:7-12-7 says that those who are young should remember their creator while they are young. He says that youth and vigor are meaningless, much like Proverbs 31:30 says concerning beauty. These things are fleeting. In a culture that glorifies youthfulness and vigor, these words can fall on deaf ears. Christians need not consume themselves with things that are fleeting, rather they should consume themselves with the things that bring about a good name: fearing God and keeping his commandments. This sort of legacy can be passed from generation to generation such that one will be among those in Hebrew 11 and among those who receive a crown of righteousness!
Lord, help my legacy to be your name!
Read: 2 Timothy 4:10-22
After telling Timothy to fulfill his own ministry and talking about how his end was near, Paul addresses a number of personal matters, but in the process lists people who have slighted him and those to whom he praises for their assistance. Paul expresses that he wants Timothy to come to him soon, because he knows that he is nearing death. Only Luke the doctor (Colossians 4:14), remains with Paul, perhaps to look after him because Paul is dying. Paul mentions those who have left or abandoned him. Some had left or were not present apparently for good reason, such as Titus, Crescens, Tychicus, Erastus, Mark, and Trophimus who were going about the work of spreading the gospel. Prisca, Aquilla, Carpus, and Onesiphorus had lent their aid to Paul in his work. Other “brethren” greet Timothy: Eubulus, Puden, Claudia, and Linus. There are undoubtedly nameless brethren too. Paul lists two people that had caused him grief: Demas and Alexander. Demas loved the world and abandoned Paul and the gospel ministry for it. Alexander the coppersmith “vigorously” opposed the teachings of Paul. Paul warns Timothy against Alexander because of the harm Alexander had caused him. He is listed with Hymenaeus (1 Timothy 1:20) who is mentioned in 2 Timothy 2:17 with Philetus. They are all accused of teaching unsound doctrine and blasphemy. Paul says that Timothy should be on guard against Alexander.
Between the names that Paul mentions Paul talks about his trial; his first hearing. He had appealed to Caesar concerning the gospel in Jerusalem (Acts 25:11). Paul was apparently on his way to Rome and was undergoing a series of preliminary trials before his case was brought before the emperor. Paul says that all had abandoned him here, but he says the Lord stood with him. He was proclaiming the gospel to all the Gentiles, and Paul had made this his goal. Paul had been selected has God’s instrument for the proclamation of the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15, Acts 13:47). Paul also credits the Lord for rescuing him “from the Lion’s mouth”, perhaps a reference to Daniel 6 where God rescues Daniel from the lions because he had remained faithful to the Lord even though there were laws prohibiting his worship of the Lord. Paul is hoping that through such suffering, the glory of God will be made known to all the Gentiles. This is Paul’s life mission (Romans 15:20) and he had accomplished much. The long list of names given in 2 Timothy are just a few of them. Paul calls such people “letters of commendation” that testify to the confidence of the work that Paul was doing as he spread the gospel to the Gentiles (2 Corinthians 3:1-4). Ultimately, Paul is looking forward to the ultimate rescue when he will be taken to be with God in heaven where he would receive the crowns that await him.
Christians today owe their salvation to God, but God used people like Paul for the purpose of the prorogation of the gospel to the gentiles. Many Christians can probably pinpoint who it was that shared the gospel with them such that that sharing resulted in repentance and salvation. The gospel has been passed down from generation to generation from the first Christians until now and it is still going forward into the entire world. Paul outlines the pattern for this propagation in 2 Timothy 2:2 – taking what has been taught, teaching others who will be able to teach others. At the end of one’s life, hopefully one will be able to look back and recall those whose lives had been touched because of one’s faithfulness to the mission of Jesus. Paul even though he felt abandoned, could still recall the names of many who he shared with that he calls “brethren”. The legacy of Paul is the gospel, so should it be for all those who make it their life’s purpose to preach the word!
Lord, help my legacy be the gospel!