“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous…An inheritance gained hastily in the beginning will not be blessed in the end.” (Proverbs 13:22; 20:21)
Death is not a popular subject, especially among the elderly. Yet the Bible frequently speaks of death and dying, as a reminder of the brevity of life, as a warning about attachment to this world, or as an encouragement for Christians who are suffering and look forward to eternity without sin and its consequences. When I moved into my retirement community at the relatively young age of 66, I wondered if I would need assisted living or skilled nursing earlier rather than later. I knew I would need this knee surgery, but I didn’t realize then that my arthritis was becoming more inhibitive. I told a few friends that I thought I might be here because my lifespan was shorter than I expected, and I was met with some horrified responses. I am not afraid of death, but like all people, do not like the prospect of declining health that will probably precede it.
Now I am trying to adjust to doing rehab in my apartment, and there are many things I cannot do temporarily, like change out my kitchen water filter. I mention this because our personable maintenance man came to help me early when I would have been writing my devotion. He is a history fanatic and has an impressive knowledge of ancient history in particular. As he shared some of his favorite historical events with me, I wondered why the Lord ordained that he would come while I was starting work on my devotion. Before he left, I suggested that he pass on his passion for history to his young son as an inheritance. Those of us with small bank accounts can rejoice that our most important legacy is not financial, but may be knowledge or wisdom. “Wisdom is good with an inheritance, an advantage to those who see the sun. For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.” (Ecclesiastes 7:11-12)
That said, we should not neglect planning for the distribution of our financial gifts upon our death. As we read in Proverbs, our grandchildren and others should benefit from our careful planning and execution of that plan. It is important to remember that if we don’t make a plan, the state will determine who receives the benefit of our hard work and investments. Proverbs 20:21 advises us to build our inheritance slowly rather than try to create one quickly (at the end of our lives). Most people do not start saving for retirement or their estate while they are young (30s or 40s), because they are still concentrating on living a life that is comfortable. Others are just unable to save due to a low income or large expenses for medical needs or emergencies. But saving is a habit that we should start early in life because it gets easier the longer we practice putting away at least a little money. Our financial habits should reflect our faith in God. We should save because it’s the right thing to do to honor God and prepare for our futures and those of our families. We should save because we have learned to appreciate delayed gratification and perseverance, having developed self-discipline. We save because by doing so we are witnesses that God has given us more than enough for this life.
Do you have an up-to-date will? Have you planned for your inheritance with careful consideration and prayer? “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23)