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FOOD FOR THOUGHT
This provokes a question: have we equipped our children to be good stewards of their money
Inheritance – Spiritual and Earthly
The Bible talks about ‘inheritance’ in both earthly and spiritual contexts. For example, we’re told in Matthew 5 that ‘the meek shall inherit the earth’. In 1 Peter 1:4 the writer tells us that Christians will receive an incorruptible inheritance in the kingdom.
Conversely, the idea of earthly inheritance is explored in the parable of the prodigal son. There, the younger brother asked to inherit his financial portion of his father’s estate while the father was still alive.
As a young man I once talked to my mother about our financial plight (at a time when it was not favourable) and I said that things may be better when my grandfather passed. I was chastened by my mother – she said we don’t live in ‘dead men’s shoes’. This was a term I hadn’t ever heard before. In short, it means: don’t expect any inheritance or, more literally, don’t expect to walk in another man’s shoes upon their death. As it turned out, my uncle gambled beyond his means and stole from his employer. My grandfather had to pay off his debts to keep my uncle out of jail. This meant that we didn’t inherit much when my grandfather died.
On the spiritual side, I’m excited knowing of the certainty of our salvation in Christ and the inheritance we receive through his death and resurrection — eternal life now and the gift of the Holy Spirit, and more to come in heaven. In a spiritual sense we only receive this inheritance when we die to our old lives. Our spiritual inheritance, therefore, isn’t so much an exercise in living in a dead man’s shoes but, rather, living in a risen man’s shoes.
Conversely, on the earthly side, as a parent I hope one day to assist our children and grandchildren in providing a financial inheritance to them. However, while I can teach our children and grandchildren about God and salvation in Christ I cannot pass on salvation to them like an inheritance. They must decide to take hold of their spiritual inheritance by taking on Christ for themselves.
This provokes a question: have we equipped our children to be good stewards of their money and the potential funds we hopefully will pass on to them one day? Or are we allowing them to proceed in life like the prodigal son?
I’m also aware that life is unpredictable and may not turn out as we hope. Just imagine the Syrians or Iraqis in the Middle East today who probably, at one stage, were wealthy and had been planning to assist their children financially. Sadly, many have lost everything they ever owned after becoming embroiled in a war. How unpredictable life is.
In conclusion, when thinking of earthly inheritances, Christians should consider where their inheritance might be most useful. I have been in many congregations over the years and have always been amazed at how a congregation can benefit by receiving funds out of the estate of a departed church member. I have never seen such funds squandered on lavish living but rather in sharing the Gospel with others. That is worth reflecting upon.
Stuart Bassett along with his wife Jenny are members of Macquarie Church of Christ in Sydney, NSW. firstname.lastname@example.org