Can You Change Your Legacy?

From Sunday’s sermon, an opening point was that you can break a cycle of bad decisions or generational sins. The following story is one that I wanted to include but chose not to. Yet it’s message still resonates. “And everyone who has left houses, brothers or sisters, father or mother, children, or fields because of My name will receive 100 times more and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Matthew 19:29-30) 

Alfred Nobel dropped the newspaper and put his head in his hands. It was 1888. Nobel was a Swedish chemist who made his fortune inventing and producing dynamite. His brother Ludvig had died in France. But now Alfred’s grief was compounded by dismay. He’d just read an obituary in a French newspaper—not his brother’s obituary, but his! An editor had confused the brothers. The headline read, “The Merchant of Death Is Dead.” Alfred Nobel’s obituary described a man who had gotten rich by helping people kill one another. Shaken by this appraisal of his life, when he died eight years later, he left more than $9 million to fund awards for people whose work benefited humanity. The awards became known as the Nobel Prize.  

Alfred Nobel had a rare opportunity—to look at the assessment of his life at its end and still have the chance to change it. Before his life was over, Nobel made sure he had invested his wealth in something of lasting value. 

Ask yourself, “Five minutes after I die, what will I wish I would have given away while I still had the chance?” When you come up with an answer, why not give it away now? Why not spend the rest of our lives closing the gap between what we’ll wish we would have given and what we really are giving? 

Nobel managed to change his legacy in this world. We have the far more strategic opportunity to change our legacy in the world to come.