In January my father-in-law passed away in South Dakota at the age of 91. Morris was a Christian man who lived his life in faithfulness to God and to his family. At his funeral, family and friends shared memories of this man and his influence in their lives. There were the usual comments about a wonderful personality, a good sense of humor, and his love for his family. But the point that came out over and over -- to the extent that it was the most common and admired quality -- was his love for God and His word, the Bible.
In the book of Hebrews, the eleventh chapter, the writer speaks of faith, and great men and women of faith. The very first man mentioned is Abel. Abel was the son of Adam and Eve. Abel and his brother Cain each offered a sacrifice to God as they were undoubtedly taught to do by their parents. Scripture tells us that God accepted Abel’s sacrifice but rejected Cain’s. In Hebrews, we read that “by faith Abel offered a better sacrifice than Cain.” If you know the Bible, you may remember that Cain became angry and jealous to the point that he killed his brother.
Verse four tells us that "by faith Abel was commended as a righteous man and by faith he still speaks even though he is dead."
First I note that Abel was a man of faith and it was his faith which won God’s approval. It was not the object he sacrificed that pleased God, but his heart that acted out of faith and obedience.
Cain’s heart obviously had some issues, as is evidenced by his actions when his sacrifice was not good enough. As is true for all of us, Cain’s reaction disclosed what was in his heart. His reaction of jealousy and anger demonstrated how his relationship with God was not right before he offered his sacrifice. When God confronted Cain after the murder, he showed no remorse.
What I see next in this commendation of Abel is that by faith, Abel continues to speak even though he is dead.
At the funeral I heard the speaking of a dead man through the lives of people he invested in while he was alive. I saw evidence of lives influenced to live for God by the one we buried that day. In a sense, I heard Morris still speak for God, much like he spoke for God while still alive. And I can see that this influence was being passed from children to grandchildren and then to great grandchildren.
All of this godly influence did not begin with a sacrifice or a good deed or a religious act. It began with faith in the living God. It was this faith which God commended in the life of Abel, and I believe the same faith lived in Morris and is living in the lives of many he influenced.
We can’t consider this without thoughts of the spiritual legacy we will leave once we depart from this life. Assuming you are interested and that you care about the family and friends in your lives, start by considering the level of faith you have in God, understanding that faith comes by hearing, reading, and understanding God’s word. Build your faith in God with the intention of not only getting closer to God, but to leave a spiritual legacy that speaks long after you are gone.