Stephen Mansfield: Men on Fire Devotional Day 1
“The Fire of Heritage”
Scripture reading: Jeremiah 6:16
Here is a lesson we must cling to all our days. We are made to live our lives with good and noble things from the past flowing through us. We are made to be empowered and lifted by what has come before us, by what has been left to us by our ancestors and by what our fathers and mothers have planted in our souls. In short, we are made to be set on fire by the nobility of our heritage. This is one of the fires of true manhood.
It has been said that a people without a heritage are easily persuaded. It is true, and though this usually is said of nations, it is certainly true of individuals. A man who does not know where he comes from, what people and history he belongs to, is lost. He cannot know fully who he is. He cannot know completely what lives inside of him. He is forced to live as though he has come into the world unarmed and alone, as though he has no belonging and has received nothing from what came before him. He must make himself into all that he becomes. He has been given nothing. It is a terrible burden.
Yet when a man knows something of his heritage, it helps him locate himself. He learns that he comes from a people. They had certain gifts. They did noble deeds. They may have done some regrettable things too, but it is the higher things about them that their descendants want to grasp. All that was admirable and powerful and inspiring about this people lives in those who proceed from them.
Those living today must make sure the greatness of their people surfaces from within them, illuminates them, and elevates them. The goal is not a narrow tribalism or arrogance. The goal is to allow what came before us to tell us who we are and to lift us to greater heights.
As the Lord says,
Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
Now let’s talk about you. Perhaps the stories of your family history are well known and much rehearsed. Good. Then take hold of the meaning of what has come before you and make it yours. Learn it. Live it. Celebrate it. Pass it on to others.
It is more likely that you know a bit about your heritage but not much, and you are eager for more. Dig in a bit. Ask some questions. Learn what you can. Turn its meaning to prayer and affirmation. It will change you. Heritage always does.
Don’t stand by, hoping someone comes to you and embeds the meaning of the past in your heart and mind. Seize it! Take what is yours from the past, live out its meaning, and pass it on to those who come after you.