The AMI QT devotionals from July 16-22 are provided by Cami King. Cami, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is currently serving as a staff at Journey Community Church in Raleigh.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
“Legacy – What Will You Leave Behind?”
Jeremiah 22:8-19 (NET Bible)
“‘People from other nations will pass by this city. They will ask one another, “Why has the Lord done such a thing to this great city?” 9 The answer will come back, “It is because they broke their covenant with the Lord their God and worshiped and served other gods.” 10 “‘Do not weep for the king who was killed. Do not grieve for him. But weep mournfully for the king who has gone into exile. For he will never return to see his native land again. 11 “‘For the Lord has spoken about Shallum son of Josiah, who succeeded his father as king of Judah but was carried off into exile. He has said, “He will never return to this land. 12 For he will die in the country where they took him as a captive. He will never see this land again.” 13 “‘Sure to be judged is the king who builds his palace using injustice and treats people unfairly while adding its upper rooms. He makes his countrymen work for him for nothing. He does not pay them for their labor. 14 He says, “I will build myself a large palace with spacious upper rooms.” He cuts windows in its walls, panels it with cedar, and paints its rooms red. 15 Does it make you any more of a king that you outstrip everyone else in building with cedar? Just think about your father. He was content that he had food and drink. He did what was just and right. So things went well with him. 16 He upheld the cause of the poor and needy. So things went well for Judah.’ The Lord says, ‘That is a good example of what it means to know me.’ 17 But you are always thinking and looking for ways to increase your wealth by dishonest means. Your eyes and your heart are set on killing some innocent person and committing fraud and oppression. 18 So the Lord has this to say about Josiah’s son, King Jehoiakim of Judah: People will not mourn for him, saying, “This makes me sad, my brother! This makes me sad, my sister!” They will not mourn for him, saying, “Poor, poor lord! Poor, poor majesty!” 19 He will be left unburied just like a dead donkey. His body will be dragged off and thrown outside the gates of Jerusalem.’”
Let’s talk about LEGACY. Merriam-Webster defines legacy as, “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.” We often employ this word to mean “memory” – how each of us will be remembered. Depending on our age and season of life, this may or may not be a question we’ve pondered extensively. But the older we get, and the closer we come to the end of any season, the more pressing the questions of what we will leave behind and how we will be remembered tends to matter to us.
In today’s passage, the legacy of these kings is abysmal to say the least. Instead of leaving behind a thriving nation that loves God, they left a destroyed city, the survivors of which are in exile. The former city will only be remembered as the site of the Lord’s judgment. Unlike their father, who was a king content with God’s provision, did what was right, cared for the poor and needy, and (as all this demonstrates) knew the Lord (vv.15-16), these kings are awful. They built large palaces for themselves by unjust means – not compensating their workers fairly (v.13) – more concerned about building large opulent buildings for themselves than about building the nation with which they’d been entrusted. They were concerned with accumulating wealth for themselves and did so dishonestly (v.17). They oppressed, defrauded, and even killed innocent people. And God wasn’t having it!
Although we are not in this kind of relationship with God (though I sometimes wish nations still were…), we stand to learn from the mistake made by these kings. So what kind of legacy will we leave behind? We are unlikely to leave a legacy of exploitation and murder (well, hopefully not), but what about one marked by greed, selfish ambition, a lack of care for the needy, or a failure to invest in God’s Kingdom? Furthermore, what kind of world will we leave for those coming after us?
Recently former President Barack Obama finally reemerged in the public sphere to give a lecture in South Africa on the legacy of the late Nelson Mandela in celebration of Mandela’s 100th birthday. (I highly recommend the lecture and a closer look at Nelson Mandela’s life!) Mandela devoted his life to the fight for equality in South Africa and paid a high price in the process. His commitment to his people, his selfless determination to win justice for oppressed, his ability to forgive decades of imprisonment and horrendous treatment are all part of the legacy he left behind. The host of a satirical news talk show summed up my sentiments well, “Let’s just acknowledge how dope [awesome] you have to be for people to keep throwing you birthdays after you’re dead” (Trevor Noah). I hope I’ll be that “dope” – maybe not on a global stage, but certainly in the lives of those God entrusts to me along my journey. What about you? How “dope” will you be?
Prayer: Gracious God, help me today to reflect on my legacy. At the end of my current season and the end of my time on this earth, may I leave behind, if nothing else, a witness to Your Great Name. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Zephaniah 1-2