Do you want to leave a legacy? Amazon.com lists just under 13,000 books with the word “Legacy” in the title, so I’m thinking legacy is some sort of magical word in our society. My old high school used to have an incredible drill team—the Eastern Hancock Royalettes—largely due to the talent and drive of the faculty director. She was a Home Ec. teacher by occupation but gave her heart and soul to this extra-curricular position. During my senior year, I was allowed to join the dance/drill team (that was a six time National Champion) on one condition. The Royalettes director wanted to do something innovative to win the 7th year championship title—so she promised to teach me to dance if I’d teach the team how to twirl rifles (I had been on the color guard two years prior). Her job was much more difficult than mine. I taught my fellow drill team members a rifle routine, and my poor director had the captain of the team teach me to dance. They hid me in the back of the lines, and we won the championship. This director had won seven national championships in a row! What a legacy, right?
Well, I graduated from high school, got married and had two children. The drill team director moved on, and the Royalettes disintegrated. When my husband and I moved back into the area, I was asked to become the new “color guard” director. We changed the focus from dance to rifles/flags and used some of the Royalettes’ “supplies.” The vintage Royalette dresses/vests, the props, the music—well, we had what some might call a garage sale. Yikes! You’d have thought I shot the mayor’s sister. It was as if I destroyed their legacy. But they had seven trophies still on display! My color guard girls didn’t win any championships, but they did a fabulous job. I didn’t leave a legacy…of earthly fame or fortune. But my color guard girls remember a fun year with a director who loved her family, loved Jesus—and loved them. So, what exactly qualifies as a legacy?
Acts 19:1-2 – “While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ They answered, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’” (emphasis added)
Paul is a man of his word. He had visited Ephesus on his previous journey with Aquila and Priscilla but pressed on to other missionary towns, leaving some in the Ephesian synagogue hungry for the Gospel. When he left, he made a promise to return (Acts 18:21 – “…if the Spirit willed it.”), and here Luke records the fulfillment of Paul’s promise. I find it odd that there’s no mention of Aquila and Priscilla, whom Paul had left in Ephesus, and who trained Apollos in correct teaching. Paul arrived here and set out to find any remaining disciples, but found only a few faithful with a limited knowledge of their faith. Now, if you were Paul, might you be discouraged with your legacy thus far? Might you battle a mindset of self-pity, resentment, or anger at those who you left behind to continue your work? We would definitely expect to see those things if Paul thought the legacy was HIS legacy to leave. But the work wasn’t about Paul. Paul’s heart was completely and utterly consumed with a passion to see souls saved from darkness—even if it was only twelve people—as we learn in the next few verses.
Acts 19:3-7 – “So Paul asked, ‘Then what baptism did you receive?’ ‘John’s baptism,’ they replied. Paul said, ‘John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.’ On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.” (emphasis added)
If Paul walked into your church and asked, “What does it mean to be a Christian?” how do you think most folks would answer? Does everyone in the pew know the four spiritual laws? Or do they simply think being a Christian means they’ve drawn the “Get out of Hell Free” card in some cosmic Monopoly game? The Ephesian disciples knew the first step of salvation only—repentance. But no one had taught them of the Holy Spirit’s power that was available to live the abundant life Jesus promised to those who believe. As Christians, we often focus mainly on Jesus, the 2nd Person of the Trinity. But it’s crucial that we learn and understand the roles of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit in our daily lives.
Acts 19:8-10 – “Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.” (emphasis added)
Acts 18:21 tells us that those in the synagogue wanted to hear more. They were the reason Paul returned to Ephesus, and Luke tells us here that Paul’s original open door was now closed. So what did Paul do? Did he get mad, take his ball, and go home? THAT’S what I would expect this traveling preacher to do! But he stays—and stays, and stays, and stays. For 27 months Paul stayed in Ephesus, his longest ministry stint ever. Wow. When Paul’s original direction changed, he changed with it. THAT’S how eternal legacies are made. When we hold onto God’s coat-tail and let Him lead, others will grab onto our coat-tails and come along for the ride! But if we dig in our heels and clutch God’s coat-tail, trying to force Him to stay within our reach, others might hold on for a while—as they walk by. True legacy-makers are: Adaptable. God-focused. Gospel-driven.
- Lord, I want to leave more than an earthly legacy. I want to see faces in eternity that I’ve built relationships with on earth. I want to love You so much that I give my best effort without concern for earthly gain. Keep my eyes, my heart, my mind focused on the eternal so that my efforts are targeted in that direction as well. May all I think and do and say leave an impression in heaven.