Proverbs in 365 Devotions
Proverbs 17 Part 2
Don't Be A Dolt!
People Are Your Legacy
This is the second in our series of devotions from the 17th chapter of Proverbs. I have titled this devotion, “Don’t be a dolt... people are your legacy” and as with the first devotion this comes from a collection of various verses in the chapter. Oh, how we must pity fools or as we are calling them for this series “dolts” based upon a reading of verse 21 in the message paraphrase.
In these selected verses today we see perhaps the most relevant of all the devotions in this short series. We rarely think of legacy. This is probably due to the fact that to think of one's legacy is to think of one's death. It seems that for most, legacy or the mark that will be left behind after us isn’t thought of until it's too late. Legacy is not something that is built overnight - legacy comes from a lifetime of action.
By the time we are faced with the question, “What will people remember of me when I'm gone?” It is usually too late to change that perception. You maybe thinking this doesn’t really matter does it? But, I would argue that it does! Your family tree can be changed for better or for worse depending upon who you were and the legacy you left.
The reason I said this might be the most relevant devotion in the series is because most of us spend our time on work when in reality Proverbs 17 seems to point to the fact that in the end it will be people, not work, that defines our legacy. In fact, I am going to argue that through the way we live we can build the legacies of those who came before us and it is through investing in those who come after us that our own legacies will be established.
My encouragement to you is simple: You will leave a legacy, you get to decide whether it is intentional or accidental. Make it intentional friends. An intentional legacy honors God and honors those who come before and after you.
#1 - How The Lives We Live Build The Legacies of Others:
Before starting Ascent Church I spent a year as a church planting intern under one of the most Godly men I’ve ever known - Steven Earp. Of the many lessons I learned from Steven this one stood out tome in a profound way. He said something like, “Blake, my goal is to be a small part in as many big stories as possible.” For Steven, he didn’t necessarily want to be the guy who started the big movement, or wrote the book that led thousands to Christ, or become the next great preacher. No, he wanted to be one of the men who invested in the men that would do great things for Christ’s Kingdom. Steven knew that it was the successes of those whom he had invested in that would ultimately define his legacy. Everyone who has been helped by any of my sermons or maybe even this devotional has Steven to thank in part. His legacy goes on through me and the other men and women who have interested in me also are reflected in my work for Christ. This is a great responsibility for me! Because I know that my actions aren’t just reflective of me, but also of Steven and the many others who have invested in me.
This means my sin and foolishness isn’t just a grief to me, but also to those who have a part in making me into who I am. Look at the following verses from Proverbs 17.
A man fathers a fool to his own sorrow; the father of a fool has no joy. - Proverbs 17:21 (CSB) A foolish son is grief to his father and bitterness to the one who bore him. - Proverbs 17:25 (CSB)
The message is clear. Don’t be a dolt! Your life will either honor or dishonor those who came before you.
#2 - How The Lives We Invest In Become Our Legacy:
My grandfather in law (Junior Zollinger) is an amazing man and role model. I love going to his house for Christmas and family get-togethers because I get to see the fruit of a man who prioritized investing in his family and leading them with Christ centered values. At his house, I see legacy inaction. I love my own family of course, but what I see there is a different story. At my family get-togethers there is residue from many divorces and conflicts that linger from unresolved issues. At Junior’s you will find all of his kids and grandkids following the Lord and faithfully loving one another. This didn’t happen by accident. It was cultivated over decades of putting God and family first. What comes first in your household? Is it work? Entertainment? Sports? Success? Don’t be a dolt my friends, people are your legacy. There will always be someone to replace you at work, but no can replace you as dad or mom to your children. And if someone has to take on that role for you, you will regret it deeply.
After all look at what Proverbs 17:6 says; Grandchildren are the crown of the elderly, and the pride of children is their fathers. - Proverbs 17:6(CSB)
Your crown at the end of life will not be found in your bank account, job status, or anything else counted as success by today’s standards. It will be found in large part by the people you have invested in.
A word of Good News As I close, I want to give you good news. I know that for many this devotion can bring feelings of shame, guilt and condemnation. You may feel it is too late to honor those who came before you and invest in those who have come after you. Indeed, you might be seeing the results of neglecting legacy even now.
But, here is the Good News. In Jesus Christ you are forgiven and given a brand new opportunity. Whatever your age and current situation it is not too late! Jesus Christ lived the perfect life and paid for the sin that condemns you as guilty. Trust in Him. Leave your current way of life and believe that this Gospel counts for you! In the resurrection we see new creation bursting forth and it is the first fruits for those of us who trust in Christ. As a new creation in Christ there is no better way to honor the legacy of those who came before you than by obeying Jesus in all of life beginning now and I can’t think of better way to change the direction of your family tree and the path of those in whom you invest in than to publicly repent and show them a better way to live. A life empowered by the Holy Spirit. A life lived in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Experience His grace anew today my friends and don’t be dolt, after all it is people who will define your legacy! So today, honor those who came before you and invest in those who have come after you by pointing them to Jesus and His glorious Gospel message.