When the first child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge was born on July 22, the world was all a-buzz. Virtually every media network on the planet carried out the news – and within minutes, it was all over the World Wide Web. Undeniably, anything that concerns the royal family fascinates us. The Queen and her perpetuating lineage of heirs to the throne undoubtedly intrigue us.
It was not too long when the discerning parents finally named their firstborn George Alexander Louis, or His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge. And the choice was not unfounded; the names were deeply carved in the Royal Family’s history.
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I say this without the slightest hint of malice, nor disrespect, but only pure amazement: Is it not curious that even in mischievous jests, nobody dared float the names Nero, Ahab, or Judas for the unnamed lad. The reason for this is simple: We all know better. We all know that the child who is third in succession to the throne of the British Monarchy must take on a name that will be at par with the illustrious names of his royal forebears; he must live out his life in accordance to the noble legacy that he is bequeathed with. Life from henceforth will most likely become more and more challenging for the young prince. Prince George will have to get used to living a highly scrutinized life. And unlike stories that grow old as they are repeatedly told, the world's interest in him will odds-on only intensify as he ages.
But before we get heartbroken over the would-be-life of the newborn prince, it will serve us right if we do some introspection as well. We have to also come to terms with the tricky part of life – that we are all under observation, royalty or not. We are all being watched. And the life we are living is going to be remembered no matter what. Eventually, it will all boil down to the kind of legacy that we will leave behind.
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Legacy. It is one of the nobler pursuits of right-thinking men, because it is what remains long after a person is gone. It is what one remembers about a pilgrim’s journey.
The secret to leaving behind a good legacy is found in Proverbs 22:1: “A good name is more desirable than great wealth. Respect is better than silver or gold.” The Message Bible offers a more contemporary interpretation of the passage and words it for us this way, “A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich; a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank.”
In this day and age when everything is conveniently sacrificed on the altar of hedonism, egocentrism, and compromise, it is important that we never lose sight of the fundamentally indispensible – a sterling reputation, a good name, a gracious spirit. We need these if we desire to ultimately carve our names on hearts, rather than on tombstones.
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Hebrews 11 or the Heroes of Faith Honor Roll in the Bible names the people in biblical history who left inspiringly beautiful legacies. They made it to the elite list because of the kind of life that they led. Interestingly, Hebrews 12: 1-3 relates their stories to the continuing stories of those after them:
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”
By virtue of mere generational succession, we are the ones continuing today the legacy of the saints before us. Tough act to follow, but if we hope to keep the wheel of faith moving and labor to never break the cycle of unrestrained devotion to Christ and His cause, we have to follow the counsel of Paul. We have to seriously get on with the race that is set before us, strip down, start running, and never quit! We have to rid ourselves of sins, keep our eyes on Jesus, and learn from Him. We need to allow God to work out His unbreakable legacy in us, then through us. We have to count it all joy to endure all kinds of trials, just as the martyrs of old did. To remain committed to God when it is most difficult is how we forge our own legacy of faithfulness to Him. This is also how we will be able to leave behind an unbreakable legacy for others to follow, to the praise and glory of Christ.