Photo by SusanTheCat on Morgue File.
Imagine yourself at the end of your life. What sort of legacy will you leave? Describe the lasting effect you want to have on the world, after you’re gone.
While there are many things I could say in response to this prompt, I think I would sum it all up with Paul’s words to young Timothy in 2 Timothy 4. There Paul is exhorting Timothy to continue on in his faith and diligence and commitment to God and his word. Paul is encouraging him not to back down, but to stay true to God and his gospel.
I would say if my legacy could fulfill the first eight verses of that chapter, then I would have lived a powerful and God-honoring life. In fact, that is what my name means, Timothy: timo comes from Greek and means, to honor; and thy comes from Greek theos, which means God, god. So then, my name means to honor God. Paul gives me the steps to do just that in the fourth chapter of 2 Timothy.
Here is what the apostle says to Timothy there:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Tim. 4.1-8, ESV)
In the first five verses, Paul is exhorting Timothy to persevere and remain true to his Christian calling. He reminds us that it is Christ who will one day judge the living and the dead. This is in stark contrast to many people’s beliefs and understandings of Jesus. Many view him as a guy who preached love, acceptance and tolerance at all costs: he did not. While he taught, to the sacrifice of his own life, the love and grace of God, it was not according to our sense of right or justice, but God’s. While Jesus demonstrated the love of God, we must understand we do not come to that under our own terms: we must submit to the standard of God. One day, it will be Christ who will judge; thus, who will condemn those who did not put their faith and trust in him.
Hence, I, like young Timothy, must preach and teach God’s word. I must preach the whole counsel of God’s word, not just the bits and parts I am comfortable with (or more to the point, that others are comfortable with), this Paul touches on in the next verse. My calling is to stand on the word of God, just as Luther so many years ago, because this is the only sure foundation.
In the last three verses, Paul resigns himself to God’s will and the coming end of his life. Paul is ready for the end. Paul is ready because he has done the very things he has admonished Timothy to do. He has fought the good fight. He has stood on the word of God. He has remained steadfast in his commitment to Christ and persevered in his Christian calling.
I pray, like Paul, I will be able to say when my time comes that I have fought the good fight. I pray my life will bear witness to that testimony. I pray that when people look and remember me they will see the light of the gospel of Christ in my life; through the ups and downs, through the successes and failures . . . that I held strong to Christ.
In the end, this is the only legacy that will last.