by Mark Mayberry
Synopsis: What will be the legacy of our life? What are we leaving behind for those whom we love? Is it merely accumulated property and possessions, or the precedent of a principled life?
In October 2017, the Adoue Street congregation in Alvin, TX held a lectureship on the importance of "Leaving a Spiritual Legacy. "
Lessons were presented by members of the Adoue Street church of Christ. My fellow-elders each spoke, along with other men of the congregation. These lessons were so rich and rewarding, I thought that readers of Truth Magazine would also benefit, especially as they consider the "Back Story" that is related herein. Accordingly, I have spent the last several weeks listening to the audio/video recordings of these lessons, transcribing the message of each speaker, and polishing them into a format suitable for this journal.
What are you planning to leave behind for those you love? Is it your accumulated property, possessions, or wealth, or is it something more? Sacred Scripture speaks of our legacy but emphasizes spiritual concerns above all others (Ps. 102:25-28; Prov. 13:20-22; Eccl. 7:1, 8).
Let us look at this subject from a high-level perspective. Reflecting upon the example of ancient Israel, both positively and negatively (Rom. 15:4-6; 1 Cor. 10:6-13), may we resolve to do whatever is necessary to make faith our own (Rom. 1:16-17).
Looking to the Old Testament for encouragement and exhortation, consider the positive example of Israel immediately after the conquest of Canaan. "Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, and had known all the deeds of the Lord which He had done for Israel" (Josh. 24:31-33, esp. v. 31).
Eventually, that faithful generation passed away, and "there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel" (Judg. 2:6-10, esp. v. 10). During the days of the judges, a dark time in Israel's history, the people forsook the Lord and served idols. Apostasy brought inevitable ill effects: a severance of fellowship with God, and a subsequent loss of freedom (Jud. 2:11-23; cf. Isa. 59:1-2).
The defining attitude of the age is captured in the reoccurring statement, "In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes" (Judg. 17:6; 21:25). Consider the cultural setting. There was no permanent political power, i.e., a dynastic family of rulers or related bureaucracy. Instead, God provided Israel with a simple organization that served her civil and religious needs. The priesthood was more important than politics, and purity was more important than power. God raised up deliverers as the need arose. Wayward Israel was not satisfied with God's simple pattern but wanted to be like the surrounding nations (1 Sam. 8:4-9).
Even after being warned about the consequences that would follow, the people insisted upon pursuing their rebellious path. "No, but there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles" (1 Sam. 8:19-22).
What does it mean, "Every man did what was right in his own eyes?" It suggests a spiritual role reversal—the rejection of divine authority and exaltation of human wisdom (Rom. 10:1-3). It also is evidence of overweening pride—the clay exalting itself over the Potter (Isa. 29:15-16; 45:9).
By exalting folly and debasing wisdom (Prov. 12:15), man chooses the way of death (Prov. 14:12; 16:25). Why? Man is not capable of charting his path: "I know, O Lord, that a man's way is not in himself, Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps" (Jer. 10:23).
During the time of the judges, even heroes of faith did not consistently or completely follow God's pattern: Eli failed to correct his sons effectively; Samson chose worldly wives; Gideon raised a dysfunctional family; Jephthah swore rashly; etc.
What is the solution to the problem? What is the divine corrective? God's plan has been in place from before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3-4). Speaking to Isaiah, the Lord God said, "Have you not heard? Long ago I did it; from ancient times I planned it. Now I have brought it to pass…" (2 Kings 19:25; Isa. 37:26).
The solution to the problem of self-will remains the same. Moses said, "You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes; for you have not as yet come to the resting place and the inheritance which the Lord your God is giving you…" (Deut. 12:8-12).
What is the path to spiritual security? How do we leave a spiritual legacy? Hear the words of Moses and Joshua.
Worship and serve the Lord: "It shall come about that the place in which the LORD your God will choose for His name to dwell, there you shall bring all that I command you." As Israel was to worship God in the place that He commanded and in the manner that He specified, we must do the same (John 4:23-24; Phil. 3:2-3).
Rejoice in the Lord: "You shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates." As Israel was to rejoice before the Lord their God, we must do the same (Ps. 35:9-10; Phil. 3:1; 4:4).
Remember the seriousness of Joshua's charge to Israel: "Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord" (Josh. 24:14-28).
Do you want to leave a spiritual legacy? Don't make half-hearted promises. Don't make vows that you have no intention of keeping. Have you vowed to serve the Lord? You had better mean it! Otherwise, you are just playing games, pretending and preening in a vain effort to impress others. However, God is not mocked (Gal. 6:7-9).
Why did we plan this lectureship? Because in an elders-deacons meeting a few months earlier, one of our deacons opened his heart, and said, "Brethren, I need help." As President and CEO of a large company, Jake Locklear frequently travels; yet, one day, these burdens pressed down, HARD. Hear and heed his words:
The day began like any other in recent weeks. I drove to the airport, checked in quickly, and headed to the gate. Yet, as I settled into the seat outside the gate, my heart began to race, my stomach began to pit. Another week on the road, away from the family. Another week of early mornings and late evenings, coming home exhausted when the family was ready for me to be strong. Another week of making decisions that affected a lot of people, their families and their futures. The weight was heavy.
So, I paced the floors up and down the terminal, speaking to God in prayer as I tried to calm myself. I would not call home—I knew the burden my wife had again that week, and I knew the disappointed hearts of the kids. I must be strong for them, not the other way. I would not call the office—we all felt the burden, and I was to be the calm, poised leader guiding us through this storm of churn and uncertainty. Sadly, I didn't think to call a brother—I did not feel I had that relationship with any of them. Sure, we had talked in the foyer before and after services about various issues, sharing stories of how we handled certain situations, but we had never really opened up to vulnerably share our anxieties, our doubts, our fears.
So, at our next meeting with the elders, I shared this experience and a desire to start a study among men to help us be strong in the Lord while leading our families, our peers, our brethren, and ourselves. We began with a smaller study aimed at considering the legacy we were leaving as men. When that proved successful, we broadened the discussion to all the men. Thus, was born the idea for the men to grow stronger together, as "iron to sharpen iron. "
In planning this lectureship, those who were chosen came together for a common purpose, considering the needs of the congregation, and coordinating our efforts to achieve our goals. It was an uplifting experience for all who were involved in the planning, preparation, and presentation of this material. The congregation was edified and exhorted. The participants were drawn closer together. Iron, does indeed, sharpen iron.
We continue invite evangelists to hold gospel meetings in Alvin and have greatly benefited from hearing well-known and respected preachers. However, over the past twenty years, there have been numerous times where we used local talent. Sometimes, we have asked one of our deacons to present a week-long series of lessons; on other occasions, we have had lectureships with different men of the congregation speaking at each service. Both have been beneficial, bringing blessings to the hearers and speakers. I highly recommend this approach to other churches. It has certainly benefited the brethren here. The series on "Leaving a Spiritual Legacy" is herein offered, for its own sake, and as a way of showing what can be done locally.
Author Bio: Mark and Sherelyn Mayberry have labored with the Adoue Street church of Christ in Alvin, TX since 1998, where he serves as the evangelist and an elder. The church website is ascoc.org. His Bible study website is markmayberry.net. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.