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Categorized | From the Pulpit

What’s Your Legacy?

Pastor Mike Wittmer

Cedar Springs Baptist Church

233 S. Main Street, Cedar Springs, MI 49319

Jim and Marge took my fiancé into their home, where she lived for six months before we were married. They drove to the far side of Ohio to attend my ordination council. Last summer, when Julie and I were presented with an opportunity to serve a church in Cedar Springs, the one couple we had to consult was Jim and Marge. 

Jim died during the last week of September. His funeral was a heart-wrenching testimonial as friend after friend and sons and grandchildren shared how much they loved him and were loved by him. He and Marge mentored many people, welcoming them into their home and making them feel like family. Speaker after speaker said they saw Jim as a father, and knew they weren’t the only ones.

Jim’s funeral reminded me of N.Y. Times columnist David Brooks’ distinction between resume and eulogy virtues. Many people live to pad their resumes and climb the ladder of success; wise people live for what will be said at their funeral. Jim didn’t have an unusual career, but I’ve never seen a man more loved.  

Jim embodied the great, double-sided command to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39 NIV). 

The eulogists said Jim was a safe person, persistent but not pushy. He kept showing up, making the next phone call or text to say he was there and to gently but firmly tell them the truth. He lifted their eyes to Jesus, and often invited them to join him in serving his Lord. When protégés messed up, Jim looked past their immaturity and praised what they had done well. His hobby was people, and he loved them to Jesus.

Jim’s life leaves lingering questions, What’s our legacy? How will we be remembered? Some speakers at our funeral might mention our accomplishments, if we have them, but no one is going to care much about them. The only thing that will matter to anyone is, “Did we love Jesus?” and “Did we love them?”

If that is what will matter then, that is what must matter now. Do you attend a church that leads you to Jesus and to rest in his love? Do you love the people God has put in your life? Your legacy, and your eternal destiny, hangs on your answer.

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