Wisdom Wednesdays: Inheritance – A Biblical Perspective – A Gift Planning Opportunity

by Phil Meinzen

An estate plan, when fully matured, displays to the public or to beneficiaries a composite view that illuminates the culmination of a lifetime of values, manifested in a person’s financial stewardship.  More than this, it symbolizes what’s important in the heart of the deceased to the generations that follow.  Such a plan gives an inheritance or a “Transfer of the Blessings” that God gives during earthly life, symbolized in material possession or wealth that we leave behind.

The Bible, God’s living Word to the world, gives insight to help us see what God ordained and how God wants us to understand the real meaning of “inheritance.”  It’s clear that the “inheritance” God intends for the generations is Christ.  Martin Luther said that Christ is literally in every Word of Scripture.  In the Biblical teaching on “inheritance,” we see how God’s people can “give Christ.”

Christians should be encouraged to consider how their own succession planning is an opportunity to “Transfer the Blessings” we’ve received for the eternal benefit of others.  In this sense, a Christian’s lifetime plan for giving flows from the waters of baptism to reflect the impact of God’s Word on the hearts and lives of His “called out” people.

In the Old Testament the concept of Inheritance was tied to the Land.  Numbers 34:1-2 stated, “The LORD said to Moses, Give the Israelites these instructions.  When you enter Canaan, the land that will be given to you as your inheritance has these borders”.

The Levites didn’t get any distribution of land.  Here we see the real essence of “inheritance.” Deuteronomy 18:2 records, “So the Levites will have no land of their own like the other Israelites.  The LORD will be their inheritance, as he promised them.”  God’s Word is clear that the Lord is Himself our Inheritance.  “I call out to you, O LORD.  I say, you are my refuge, my own inheritance in this world of the living,” (Psalms 142:5).

In reality, we are God’s heirs.  God’s riches are ours.  Proverbs 8:21 gives us the desire of Wisdom “to give an inheritance to those who love me and to fill their treasuries.”

After Christ appeared the inheritance of land immediately changed.  The evangelist Luke documents in Acts 4: 34-37, “None of them needed anything.  From time to time, people sold land or houses and brought the money to the apostles.  Then the money was distributed to anyone who needed it.”  Note the community of love that was in place in the early Church.

Indeed, our faith is a proclamation of a shared inheritance.  Acts 20:32 tells us, “I am now entrusting you to God and to his message that tells how kind he is.  That message can help you grow and can give you the inheritance that is shared by all of God’s holy people.”

Have you discussed with your constituents the benefit to them in seeking spiritual, expert and trustworthy counsel of charitable resources?  What would this encouragement do for people who want to honor God with the heritage of faith and the stewardship of earthy possessions to “Transfer the Blessings” for loved ones and favorite ministries to the third and fourth generations and beyond?

This planning that extends to the third and fourth generation is not possible when it is undertaken only with a transactional viewpoint, as if the material possessions were the only aspect of the blessing.  The rules against perpetuity prohibit such transactions beyond the third generation.  However, the most prized possession a Christian has is the gift of faith to believe.  This gift, given by the grace of God through the Holy Spirit of God, is transferrable by the miracle of God’s eternal love within His people.

Taking hold of the “life that is really life” and utilizing the charitable resources that the church and other Christian ministries provide, will help us proclaim faith through our financial leadership in the church, in the home and will witness to real faith in our communities and throughout the world.

One result will advance the Gospel’s impact on others today, tomorrow and forever – from ages to ages.

Phil Meinzen is Director of Training, Consulting & Mentoring with the LCMS Foundation.  Contact him at Philip.Meinzen@lfnd.org.

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