Whether we embrace it or not, everyone leaves a legacy – money, assets, or debts. But families with lasting legacies bequeath a family culture of values and a belief system, which either separate or bring together the family members left after a loved one has gone to be with the Lord.
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. The Amplified Version, Classic adds: Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled (John 14:27).
Jesus’ legacy was peace, not a life free of difficulties, but a priceless, relational peace. For those who remained, who had committed to make him first in their lives, the legacy involved a command – to love each other so the world would know they belonged to him. He said his was unlike the world’s peace. It would transcend the troubles of this world. It would continually connect those who followed him to the love of his Heavenly Father. It would facilitate and inhabit the love his followers had for each other.
In Christ’s verbal will and testament, peace was inscribed in the bold, red ink of his blood-stained love on the looming cross. The peace with God that Jesus purchased that day strengthened and compelled his followers to go from mourning his loss to obeying his command to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth. It comforted them during persecution, and it sustained them on their mission.
Holidays with family can be challenging. Not every Christian table is filled with believers at this time of year. Not everything is easy. Maybe you’ve just experienced this. So how can you let the perfect peace of Christ calm you in every circumstance, so you can model this relational equity?
“And everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world” (John 16:33, TPT).
So, what is your plan for a legacy of love and peace?
There’s a process involved in leaving this kind of legacy for your family. The sooner you start living out the life of Christ and depending on him to supply what you need, the more clearly you define and demonstrate your values and beliefs, the higher the probability your children will live peaceful lives with one another.
Bequeathing a legacy of wealth without any training or experience will erupt in relational turmoil. A lazy legacy leaves behind relational heartache, while an intentional legacy of love sets up heirs with hearts open to family peace.
Modeling and teaching generosity is a part of this legacy. Don’t take for granted that your children will be generous in the future: Help them be generous in the present. Talk about and decide together the best ways to support your church and ministries that are aligned with your passions. Encourage ongoing conversations about the values and beliefs you esteem. Cultivate environments that facilitate a relational culture of peace and love. Let yourself be open to discussing differences, collaborating on solutions, and committing to support one another, regardless of whether or not you agree.
In our family, my wife Rita and I have noticed that if we honor each other with love and respect, those actions yield positive results, and our children tend to do the same. Authentic harmony in our marriage relationship tends to build trust and peaceful fruit in other relationships in our lives, including our extended family.
“The peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, Phillips Translation).
What if, like Jesus, our command to those we left behind (as well as our example) was to love one another as we had loved them? What will your legacy be?
Related Readings: Isaiah 57:20,21, 66:12; Hebrews 13:20; Romans 5:1
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I receive your peace to settle my heart and give me the courage to bring healing and relational peace to others, through Christ’s love and in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Application: Begin conversations with your family and friends about leaving a legacy of peace and love in the way the Lord would have you. Plan and pray about taking some concrete steps toward building this.