The Greatest Legacy
The ancient Spartans had a secret that allowed them to be the fiercest of warriors. They understood that to win wars they needed to raise children who embraced self-sacrifice more than any pleasures which might be enjoyed. Known for their fearlessness, their strategic warfare, and their red cloaks which masked any loss of blood, the Spartans intimidated their enemies long before the battle began. Even the great Persian army which outnumbered the Spartans 100 to 1 was defeated for seven days.
Chrysostom, one of the deep thinkers of Christianity who was influenced by Greek thought wrote, “If a child learns a trade or is highly educated for a lucrative profession, all of that is nothing compared to developing the art of detachment from riches. If you want to make your child rich, teach him this: He is truly rich who does not desire great possessions . . . Don’t worry about giving him an influential reputation, but ponder deeply how you can teach him to think lightly of this life’s passing glories. Don’t strive to make him a clever orator, but teach him to love true wisdom. He will not suffer if he lacks clever words, but if he lacks wisdom, all the rhetoric in the world can’t help him. A pattern of life is what is needed–not empty speeches; character, not cleverness; deeds, not words. These things will secure the kingdom of God and bestow God’s blessings.”
The greatest blessing and legacy we can leave to our children is not found in our bank accounts or lands or houses but in our example of self-sacrifice, endurance, character, and hope. In Romans 5 the Apostle Paul, who understood the meaning of leaving a legacy of self-sacrifice, wrote, “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope keeps us from being ashamed.”