Leaving a LEGACY

The Inner Man
The Inner Man for Teachers

OBJECTIVE: The students will be able to give the definition of "spiritual legacy" and will be able to identify the traits found in those who are building such a legacy.

A will form, (available at most stationery supply stores) could be an interesting visual to use as you begin this session. Mention that a material possession can be left only to one person, but our spiritual legacy can be left to a broad range of beneficiaries.

Bring out that estate planners will tell you to keep good documentation, have all your records in order, everything in a safe and secure place, etc. Some of these same concepts carry over into the spiritual realm, as we consider what we will leave behind as a spiritual legacy to those whose lives we have touched.

Be careful that your discussion does not digress into a consideration of wills and estates in the non-spiritual sense.

  1. Your students' responses should bring out that a spiritual legacy is something of spiritual value which is left behind. In contrasting the two definitions (natural legacy vs. spiritual legacy) we find that in the natural, a legacy is something you can see, touch, hold, and even spend. A spiritual legacy has none of these characteristics, yet it is of far greater value. In both cases, the legacy is a "possession." In the natural, it is property or money that has been acquired. In the spiritual, we must have "possessed" salvation and good spiritual fruit in order to leave a testimony. Ask your students to suggest some things that might be left behind as a spiritual legacy. Some examples are an enduring testimony of a life that was above reproach, an example of faithfulness in following Christ, and deeds done because of a love for souls and for the furtherance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  2. Your students will probably respond to this question by bringing out that Mary's attributes included; love for Christ, humility, reverence, spiritual vision, and a willingness to do what she could. Mary's legacy was the example that she left which Christ commended. It series as an eternal memorial to her devotion. While we will not have exactly the same opportunity Mary had to show her love for the Lord, we will have occasions where we can show that love through our actions and attitudes toward others. We should strive to possess and exemplify godly attributes, to live a life above reproach, and to do whatever we can to further the Gospel.
  3. The verses in 1 Peter indicate that Jesus left an example of how to live a sinless life, how to suffer, and how to commit self to God. In response to this question, your students will understand that the expectations outlined are indeed reasonable for Christians of our day. They are possible because Jesus' legacy included the imparting of power to His followers to live as He lived. See John 1:12;14:12.
  4. Your students should bring out that with Jesus as our example we ought to be showing to others a pattern of good works, speech that cannot be condemned, sincerity in all we do, incorruption, etc. No doubt they will conclude that these specifics are not the only areas in which we should be an example. Direct your students, attention to the last part of Titus 2:10, which indicates that we should "adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things." Discuss what it means to "adorn the doctrine."
  5. Referring to these Scriptures will help your students see that we remember Enoch for his close walk with God, Moses for his meekness, David for his courage, Abraham for his faith, Paul for his good fight of faith, and Job for his patience. You might wish to follow up this question by asking your students to think of others from post-Bible time up to our twenty-first century who left Christians a spiritual legacy. They might mention Martin Luther, who left a legacy of courage and a determination to stand up for his beliefs. George Mueller exemplified being willing to trust God implicitly for every financial need. The man known as Praying Hyde was an example of being an intercessor in prayer.
  6. You probably will receive quite a variety of answers in response to this question. Your students may mention King Saul, who, despite being the one selected by God to be the first king of Israel, is remembered for his disobedience. Judas, even after being one of Jesus' chosen disciples, is recalled for his greed and betrayal of Christ. Your students may mention Ananias and Sapphira, who are remembered for their attempted deceit. Compiling this list should make the class very aware that it isn't the beginning of the race that determines the winner, but the crossing of the finish line.
  7. In this Epistle, Peter wanted to stir up the people's memory of the things which had happened while Jesus was on earth and since His death on the Cross. He didn't want these things to be forgotten after his own death. And they weren't, of course, because we have in our Bible the record of Christ, His words, and His works. Peter's great legacy included his writings, his ministry, and his life for Christ. You may bring out that Peter's failures, which are also recorded, are not what come to mind first when we think of him. Rather, he is remembered for how he overcame those failures. Peter's goal was that Christ would be remembered by those he came into contact with. Ask your students to consider the danger of dwelling too much on past failures, rather than looking toward the finish of the race and planning what will be left behind as a spiritual legacy.
  8. The class should conclude that although we never feel as if we have reached the highest spiritual plateau possible, we do have grace available to help us be that God would desire us to be. If we recognize that we have not done as well as we should have in a particular situation, we must turn to God and ask Him for renewed strength to "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14).
  9. Discuss this question in conjunction with the previous one. Stress the positive. If one can look back and see an experience of salvation, he can be assured that God sees that too. Emphasize that we have no power to change the past, but we can certainly move on from the present. Others must be shown that there is victory ahead for the followers of Christ. They need our example.
  10. These questions will give an opportunity to review the entire lesson and reinforce with your students that the traits chosen are attainable and very necessary in living their lives for God. Stress that their life now, when lived for Christ, will speak for eternity.


KEY TEXTS: Genesis 5:22-24; Numbers 12:3; 1 Samuel 17:32; Mark 14:3-9; Romans 4:3,20-21; 2 Timothy 4:7-8; Titus 2:7-8; James 5:11; 1 Peter 2:21-24; 2 Peter 1:13-15

OTHER SCRIPTURES USED: John 1:12; 14:12; Philippians 3:14; Titus 2:10