Spiritual Inheritance: What Were You Given, What Will You Give?
A few weeks ago at church, we discussed the concept of spiritual inheritance as opposed to earthly inheritance.
Psalm 16: 5–7
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely, I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
This is not the first time it was unclear to me whether what I’ve read was intended metaphorically or spiritually, maybe both. Initially, I perceived this reading in a literal sense, as in “land of milk and honey.” But, the deeper I dove into it, the more my understanding of the intent changed. Could the pleasant places mean only in the presence of God? The concept of a delightful inheritance is followed by: “I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.” Is this in knowing that God is beside us even when we are sleeping? That He’s always with us, heaven on earth, 24/7?
The Bible often refers to land as an inheritance. But maybe, sometimes, the land is actually a metaphor for our heaven-on-earth, constant access to the Lord through prayer. Now that’s an inheritance—the limitless spiritual landscape to be with God!
I ask myself, in this spiritual landscape, what have I inherited? Psalm 23 describes one of the first locations that comes to mind about places of our inheritance: “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.” This is a place of inherited peace. In knowing that God wants me to find rest in Him, I have ready access to tranquility. Even when in a desert of despair, I can remove myself from the situation, if only for a moment, and find peace in the evergreen pasture of His love. A virtual vacation home for my soul!
Hebrews 9:15 tells me that through Christ I have the eternal inheritance of freedom from the penalty of sin. I think about some of my sins and the guilt I feel as a result of them. To imagine that my slate of bad decisions is wiped clean because I’ve asked and received forgiveness for them, almost makes me giddy with relief. If I knew that I’d have to suffer for each of the sins I’ve committed during my lifetime, before I could join my God in heaven, I’d be more than a little hesitant to face my death.
And what would I say to others who are facing imminent death? What comfort could I give them? “Well, you’ll have to suffer for a while. And it’s going to be tough, because after all, it’s what you deserve. But when it’s over you get to live in paradise with God forever.” Small wonder Christ died for our sins. God loves us so much He wants us to be overjoyed with the prospect of joining Him—to embrace Him with the love he deserves, not go kicking and screaming at the prospect of retribution for our sins.
Morality is another inheritance from the Lord. The ten commandments are the basic structure of all morality worldwide, Christian or otherwise. Most cultures rely on these rules as the gold standard of human behavior, and for those who don’t worship one God, all but the first three commandments are the governing practices. God’s inherent love in our souls has been guiding us since the beginning of time.
My Christian heritage is the mold of which I fashion my life. I receive it with thanks and praise that I have the blessed inheritance of being a Christian. I want the same for my children. I want the best for my family, and the very best inheritance I can give them is an inheritance of Christian traditions and beliefs.
What will they inherit from me?
I want them to inherit a Christian model of life. Learning to pray to the Lord, to depend on Him in all situations, is the example I want them to see. Setting aside time for the Lord is one of the most important prayerful habits I can teach them. If I’m sitting quietly with God and someone interrupts, I’ve learned to tell them, “Give me a minute. I’m praying.” The blessing here is three-fold: I get to finish my quiet time with God, whoever interrupted sees that time with God is a priority, and they see that moments of prayer can be sprinkled throughout the day, not just morning and evening.
We can learn habits from being with people who practice them. Giving is one of the Christian habits that have become a way of life. Tithing is one way I give to my church; but, just as important, is attending and supporting church functions and activities. I want my family to live as part of God’s family, to have a broader connection and responsibility than only with people who share their genes.
Tradition is another of part of our rich Christian inheritance that keeps us connected. Worshiping together builds trust and dependence on each other. Different members of my family attend different churches. I respect their choices. But on Christmas and Easter we all attend church together. These are the times I’m the most aware of my inheritance from Him, all of us sharing in the rich Christian traditions that make us a family of God. Ours is a family who, whether together or apart, says grace at the table wherever we are, thanking the Lord for His blessings. This is an inheritance that was passed down to me, that I pass down to my children, and that they have passed down to theirs. The Lord shares His love for us and we share it with each other. How can I not be eternally thankful for that?
In this way, my children are passing their inheritance on to their children. I have no control over what else of their inheritance they will choose to make a part of their lives, no more than they can choose for their children. But I can show them that my Christian inheritance is the greatest gift we can receive. It’s something I treasure, and I hope they accept it with the grace and love with which it was given to me and I give to them.