When I was a teenager, I had a conversation with my mom about parents leaving their children an inheritance. At some point in that conversation, my mom said, “Nick, there are different kinds of inheritances that parents can leave their children. Most limit their understanding of an inheritance to the financial realm, while the Scriptures predominantly emphasize the importance of leaving your descendants a spiritual inheritance. The latter is far more important than the former.” I not only agree with what my mom (who is now with Christ) told me then, I recognize that she left my sister and me such an inheritance.
In a day when multitudes are enthusiastically committing themselves to Christian financial management principles, it would serve us well to consider what sort of inheritance we are storing up for our children. We should be considering what example we are leaving behind for our children to follow. The life of Abraham serves as a model in this regard. Abraham picked up all that he had; and, at the promise of God, left all and followed the God of promise to a place he did not know (Heb. 11:8). Abraham walked by faith with his sons in the land of promise–as a pilgrim and foreigner–hoping in a heavenly city (Heb. 11:9-10). While the Scriptures take note of the fact that Abraham was fairly financially prosperous, it does not highlight that as the better part of the inheritance that he left behind. Abraham left a spiritual inheritance to all those who would become his offspring by virtue of having the same faith in Christ as he himself had (John 8:58; Rom. 4:13; Gal. 3:9). Scripture highlights the fact that the true riches are the spiritual riches of God’s grace (Luke 12:21; James 2:5).
When we approach the subject of leaving our children a spiritual inheritance, we should be asking ourselves a series of diagnostic questions. These are only a few of the questions that we should be asking ourselves as we evaluate what sort of inheritance we are preparing for our children:
- Do I model for my children what it is to depend on the Lord Jesus Christ as the only Savior of sinners? Does my life reflect that I am broken over my sin and relying on the blood and righteousness of Christ alone for my salvation?
- Does my life reflect the fact that I am humbly submitting myself to the word of God? Do I have an evident devotional commitment to the Lord through a daily and diligent study and meditation of His word and in prayer?
- Is Lord’s Day worship the most important part of my week? Does my commitment to being in corporate worship with the people of God reflect that it is the highest joy and delight of my soul?
- Do I love spending time with and encouraging the people of God? Do I enjoy being with the saints on a regular basis (more than simply with them in worship on the Lord’s Day)?
- Do I show a joyful submission to the pastors/elders of the local church to which I have committed myself?
- Am I seeking to love my spouse in the ways that the Lord teaches me to do in his word? Am I seeking to fulfill my part of the marriage covenant in such a way that my children see it as analogous to (though very imperfectly so) the relationship between Christ and the Church?
- Am I diligently teaching my children God’s word in family worship, helping them memorize Scripture, teaching them to sing God’s praises, prioritizing Lord’s Day worship, giving back to the Lord financially and lovingly disciplining them? Am I modeling what it looks like to ask them to forgive me when I have sinned in the home–in my relationship to them or to my spouse?
- Am I using my time in ways that make it evident that I am seeking to live my life for the glory of God? Am I serving others by opening my home to them and exercising hospitality toward them? Am I diligently serving in the church in a variety of capacities that best fits the spiritual gifts that the Lord has given me?
- Am I committed to sharing the Gospel with those in the community in which I live? Am I seeking to exercise mercy to those in need around me in the church and community?
- Is the fruit of the Spirit evidently being borne in my life? Would others consider me to be a person full of love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control?
When we seek to answer these and similar questions honestly, we will have to admit that we have failed in many ways (James 3:2). None of us can say that we have done all of these things to the degree to which–and with the heart with which–we ought to have done them. When we ask the Lord to deal honestly with us in examining us by His word in these things, we must go back to Christ for growth in grace and progress in seeking to be faithful to what He wants from us. In so doing, we will find that we are storing up for our children a spiritual inheritance that may last far beyond the next generation. May God give us the grace that will work in us a desire for this inheritance most of all.