Children are a heritage from the Lord; offspring are a reward from Him. —Psalm 127:3
In this season of political debating and campaigning, I’m reminded of the legacy each of our previous presidents left for our country over the course of its history. Some of them have left a great and lasting legacy, but others are remembered more for the negative impact their decisions or policies had on the United States of America.
In their book, Your Heritage: How to be Intentional about the Legacy You Leave, Otis Ledbetter and Kurt Bruner point out that each of us enter the world with a heritage handed down to us; strong ties of biology and identity that dictate many of the patterns and expectations we carry throughout life. That genetic structure dictates who we are. For some, the legacy that has been handed down generation after generation is like what Otis calls “a beautiful, elegant wedding gown;” a heritage of purity, love, wisdom, and honor for God. For others, the heritage might look more like shredded rags that are stained and dirty; a generational pattern of abuse, neglect, or lives deeply entangled in drugs, alcohol, or other addictions.
“What were you handed from previous generations?”
Yes, we all have been handed a heritage, but it’s what we do with the heritage passed down to us that will define the unique legacy we leave our own children. Some who are handed a beautiful white wedding gown as their heritage sadly trade it in for dirty, stained rags. Others find Christ, reject their heritage of rags, and began to sew an amazingly beautiful gown for their children and grandchildren.
The authors ask us, “What were you handed from previous generations?” Were you handed rags, but continue to wear them? Or were you handed a carefully stitched, gorgeous gown? Either way, we can choose what we will wear each day. It may be harder for some than others, but it can be done—through the transforming work of our Savior. It’s a wondrous truth that, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone; the new is here! —2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
I know beyond a shadow of doubt that if you were handed a bitter heritage, God can (and will) transform it as you give it to Him, and will replace it with it a heritage of blessing to hand down to your children. If you were handed down a “royal gown” as a heritage, by walking in obedience to God and relying on the Holy Spirit’s leading, you can maintain that legacy of faith, hope, and love to pass to the next generation.
So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child. And since you are also His child, God has made you also an heir. —Galatians 4:7-9 (NIV)