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!