Leaving A True Family Legacy

Everyone knows that family that seems to have it all. You’ve probably received their Christmas letter–the one that cites their 14 year-old’s early acceptance to Harvard, the casual mentioning of the husband’s work commissions really helping with that casual trip to Hawaii in February, and oh, did they mention the entire family is up for a Nobel Peace Prize?

Now, we shouldn’t be covetous of the success of others. Let’s be honest, though–it’s very easy to judge our families by these idealized images we see from others. At the same time, God has a higher definition of what blesses a family. The Bible constantly reminds us that while God can give us material blessings (expecting to use those for His kingdom), there are other signs of what makes a truly blessed home.

In Proverbs, we are given many glimpses into what makes a good home. Here’s a hint: It isn’t necessarily wealth! In fact, let’s make a quick list of some of the things Proverbs cites as more valuable than types of wealth:

-Wisdom (Proverbs 3:14, 8:11, 16:16)
-Knowledge (8:10)
-A Wife of Noble Character (31:10)
-Fear of the Lord (15:16)
-Honesty (19:22)
-Godly Integrity (19:1)
-A Good Reputation (22:1)
-Righteousness (16:8)
-Quietness (17:1, and the parents of preschoolers are nodding sagely)
-Wise Words (20:15)
-An Understanding Wife (19:14, and all the husbands are nodding sagely)
-Love (15:17)

How many families out there seem to have the entire world at their fingertips, but are an absolute mess when it comes to showing love to one another, dealing with crisis, or being good examples of Christlike lives for their children? It’s entirely possible that a family provide everything in terms of material goods for their children, but wholly miss nurturing their spiritual side. In other words, filet mignon might be on the table, but their soul is absolutely starved. Proverbs 19:13 gives us a picture of this dysfunctional family; a foolish son is “destruction to his father”, and a quarrelsome wife is “a continual dripping of rain”.

As we see, a solid family life doesn’t start with material wealth, it starts by ordering our houses after what God desires in our lives. Proverbs 24:27 describes this as doing our work to properly order our lives, so that then we may in turn “order our house”. If we do not build on a firm foundation, anything we build for our family simply cannot last. Yet if we build with a godly integrity, we are told that our children will be blessed after us (Prov. 20:7).

Many of us have either had relatives leave us possessions in their will, or have had to consider making out a will and testament of our own. Our Heavenly Father doesn’t always give us the newest cars or a trust fund, but he definitely gave us one immeasurable gift–the way to salvation, through the sacrifice and Resurrection of his only begotten Son. Our treasures in Christ are “stored up in heaven”, not on Earth (Matthew 6:20). We might end our lives here on Earth in modest means or in humble circumstances, but if we’ve had loved ones who have encouraged us in our walk with the Lord, if we’ve had strong role models who helped us grow into accepting the lordship and salvation of Jesus Christ, we are part of a far greater inheritance than any earthly wealth can grant.

It’s natural to want to leave a legacy for our loved ones. Not every family will be able to help their kids with college, or start them out in their marriage by helping with a new house, but regardless of income, they can give them time spent in God’s Word as a family. They can ensure that the Christian walk doesn’t end at noon on a Sunday, but that the family seeks after God all week and every day. They can make sure they are shown what Christian love and selflessness look like. They can be shown what a powerful, overarching faith in God can do, and how God can transform and heal even those families that seem broken or dysfunctional beyond repair. The biggest material fortune on earth given to our loved ones will last–at most–only a lifetime (Prov. 27:24). Yet as Christians, we have a Father who gives all of us a heavenly treasure that endures forever.

-Zachary Houghton


1) How are we investing in our family’s spiritual lives daily?

2) What sort of qualities does God want us to “hand down” to our families?

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