Our real legacy begins with our final breathe. 


The French sculptor Rodin was commissioned by The Roman Catholic Church in the late 19th century to complete a statue of a man in contemplation. The face was to be considering the gates of a cathedral which would be inscribed with visions of hell and torment. “The Thinker” is a reminder of eternal life—where will we spend it and what does our future mean for us now.

The question before every person is “What should be the impact of the eternal on how we live now?

The Emperor’s Club ponders just that question.  Kevin Kline plays Mr. Hundert, a high school teacher in a boy’s school.  He has given his life to build men from the inside, out.  Mr. Hundert struggled with one young man more than others.  Years after discovering that one of his former students had again cheated on an examination—this time as an adult—the teacher, Mr. Hundert, confronts him.   Watch the 3 minute clip:

After the teacher has his say, the student responds,

“Who gives a sh** about your principles and virtues?  People do what they need to do to get what they want. I’ll worry about what I leave behind later.”

At that moment from one of the bathroom stalls emerges the former student’s young son, Robert, who heard everything. The looks on all the faces make the point without saying it: the family legacy had already been built.

The problem began with the father’s father whose point of view was the same: do what you must to get ahead.

The present is always affected by the past.   The scholar Richard Weaver explains,

“Those who have no concern for their ancestors will, by simple application of the same rule, have none for their descendants.” 

Contemplation of the eternal matters.  How we think about the future impact these three life essentials:

1. Meaning“Why?” is the most important question giving eternal purpose to the temporal.

2. CoherenceMaking sense of reality comes from understanding of beginnings and ends.

3. PermanenceEveryone longs for completion, we know there is more than this life.

Teaching ethics I write two words on the board, one over the other:



The only basis for ethics (what one should do) is the eternal.

If there is no afterlife, no accounting for what we have done in this life, then why not do whatever we would like now?

Psalm 73 is an excellent example of this sentiment from a believer. Asaph, a priest, said “his foot had almost slipped”—that is, he’s almost given up his belief. He saw the wealthy and powerful get away with murder.

But the word “until” stops us: “Until I considered his final destiny.”

When we understand that what we do in this life will be judged in the next, it gives us pause.

So there must be an ETERNAL God to whom we must give an account.

Our legacy may matter to the next generation but our real legacy begins with our final breathe.


As R.C. Sproul said it best, “Right now counts forever.”

The Thinker should make us pause, consider, ponder, and prepare.

After this life, is eternal life.

The question for The Thinker is the same question for every person, “Am I ready?”

Mark believes that Jesus’ statement in John 3:17-18 agrees with The Thinker: 

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.


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  1. I enjoyed reading this article especially in light of the McHenry School District’s campaign Character Counts. I was wondering if anyone else drives by their signs that plead for virtue and ethics and wonders at their lack of foundation. Ironically, they use pictures of Greek architecture to espouse their grand ideas, but the grand ideas lack a grand premise. If there is an eternal God who gives value to eternal ethics, maybe what I am commissioned to live out in my character counts.

  2. There is nothing you can do that can effect the past. there is nothing you plan to do that will effect the past or the future. But what you do right now, today will touch eternity.

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