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Writing A Terrible Life’s Legacy

Can you imagine writing a terrible legacy for your life? All it takes is one choice.

For Jeroboam, this choice came at the pinnacle of his career. Jeroboam, one of the kings of Israel, started out with great promise. He caught the eye of his boss. He won assignment after assignment. Before becoming king, he was appointed as superintendent of all the public works activity.

Few will remember that before his kingship, Jeroboam was prophesied over. God gave him a promise:

If you do whatever I command you and walk in obedience to me and do what is right in my eyes by obeying my decrees and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you” (I Kings 11:38)

If Jeroboam would just obey God, then he would have an enduring legacy. Practically speaking, he was promised the 10 tribes of Israel—part of the kingdom. It was a glorious future, a bright promise.

Eventually the prophecy came true. Jeroboam son of Nebat was handed the 10 tribes. He became king over those tribes. But at this juncture, Jeroboam son of Nebat made a troubling choice.

He realized that those 10 tribes might leave their country in a pilgrimage to worship God in Jerusalem. If they did, their allegiance would switch to Jerusalem’s king, or at least, so he feared. As a matter of preserving his power, Jeroboam set up two golden calves and told his people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods”  (I Kings 12:28). Through this one act, he led Israel into the sin of idolatry.

Jeroboam chose maintaining his power over obeying the One who selected him in the first place.

He could have had an enduring legacy—one like David, who was revered for generations. But Jeroboam chose power instead. Because of this one choice, disaster came upon Jeroboam’s family. All of the sons of Jeroboam died and did not receive a proper burial—except for one innocent young child.

Worse still, as future evil kings of Israel arose, their legacy was compared to Jeroboam. Nineteen times the scripture records, “[H]e departed not all his days the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.” Like a broken record, Jeroboam’s legacy of sin was repeated over and over.

Day by day, I think few of us realize the life legacy we are writing. We make choices that affect generations down the line. Perhaps it’s easier to ignore the impact of our choices because we can’t read the history books of our own lives, but we can envision them. What choices will you make today? Will those choices lead to a powerful, enduring legacy?

About Bill High

Bill High is an author of several books and co-author with David Green of Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously: www.givingitallawaybook.com. You can find him at www.billhigh.com and sign up for his blogs there.

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