One of the hardest things about being a dad is realizing that I am training my children each and every moment. And as every parent knows, children will tend to emulate what they see more so than what you tell them to do. So saying things like, “Don’t be like mommy,” or “Don’t be like dad,” tend to be ineffective. Children will copy what they see. As a parent we must accept that as a given. But the truth of the matter is that if anyone looks up to us, they may copy our behavior. Or they may see something we do, not know it’s not something they should be following, and copy it, too. Think about in older movies how you see movie stars with cigarettes and how cigarettes once upon a time had an image of being cool. Look at fashions nowadays and see how folks copy what is considered popular. For those that lived through the 1980s, consider the big hair, the gaudy colors, parachute pants, leg warmers, do I need to go further?
It stands to reason that we are always an example for the people around us, whether we realize it or not. As a result, we should carefully consider our legacy. What kind of example are we setting? Is it one that draws people closer to God? Or is it one that marks us as like everyone else? That’s an important question, because part of our purpose here is to share the Gospel message, and that once you accept the Gospel, you should live a life radically different from most people because of how your priorities shift, how your perspective is broadened, and how you come to understand that what you used to consider important isn’t really. So if we look like everyone else, if the Gospel and Christianity is just another “accessory” to the modern life, than we have failed our Savior. I know that’s blunt and harsh, but that’s the truth.
What if we go a step further and rather than just not set ourselves apart from the crowd we are instead leading people into sinful behavior due to our example? For instance, what if we are dads that tells our sons to respect their mother but then we objectify women and don’t treat them as fellow sisters in Christ and children of our Lord? What are they likely to do? This is just one case. I’m sure you can consider several more.
Lamech said to his wives:
“Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;
you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say:
I have killed a man for wounding me,
a young man for striking me.
If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold,
then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.”
– Genesis 4:23-24, ESV
Lamech is a descendant of Cain and the same sinful thinking that led Cain to kill Abel. Rather than feel remorse for his actions, he instead revels in the fact that he has committed murder and basically dares God to do something about it. This is Cain’s legacy. This is what his example has wrought. Likely each succeeding generation built on the evil that Cain demonstrated. That only makes sense, because we know how hard it is to break out of these cycles. We see it with alcoholism and abuse and other behaviors. So it stands to reason that Lamech is directly a product of Cain, a testament to Cain’s example. I don’t know about you, but that sort of legacy doesn’t please me. This is not what I want to be remembered for.
It is never too late to do something about your legacy. It may be difficult, and seemingly impossible, but we serve and love the God of whom was said, “For nothing will be impossible with God,” (Luke 1:37). So if our desire is to build (or correct to) a legacy of holiness, faithfulness, and devotion to God, we can turn to Him. It may, and likely will, mean great changes in our own lives. But that’s where it’s important to keep an eternal view on things. The pain of the change will be a fleeting moment compared to the endless timeline of forever. What is your legacy? How does it need to change to be in line with what God desires? Are you ready to embrace that change for the good of those around you and who will come after you?