I have had this question presented to me many times in my years helping people plan for the future and it is a valid and extremely important question to ask. It is surprising to me that so many people delay in making this decision or simply refuse to act on it at all. I have had several people come to me for estate planning assistance and literally say, “Why do I care, I won’t be here when it happens and everybody will figure it out.” This is a very unfortunate and selfish way to respond and it goes against the wishes that God has for us. So, does the Bible provide any references to this topic? Are there any indications as to what God wants us to do with our assets? The answer to both of these questions is, not surprisingly, yes.
Before diving into the specifics of how to address this matter, it is important to understand one very important fact: we are not the real owners of our property. Read that statement again, but take some time to think about it. We all like to think that we are in complete control of our possessions and that we work hard to obtain them. This is somewhat true, as it is incredibly important to develop a good work ethic and God actually expects this out of us. However, this fails to acknowledge the fact that the only reason why we have anything, such as our work, our homes, our money, our bodies, etc. is due to the gifts that God gives us. As King David so eloquently stated in Psalm 24: “The Earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” It is also reiterated in Psalm 50:9-10 as follows: “I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. Our time on this earth is limited, as is our control over God’s property.
So, what are we expected to do with the resources that God has given us? Another key concept that we need to understand as followers of Jesus Christ is that we are simply stewards of the property that God has allowed us to oversee while we are on this side of heaven. Which prompts another question: What is stewardship? This is actually a fairly simple concept. Stewardship is simply the process of managing someone else’s property. As stated earlier, we are clearly not the ultimate owners of our property, but we have been given the task by God to oversee it during our brief time on this earth and we should clearly strive to make decisions that bring honor and glory to our Heavenly Father. As it is stated in Luke 12:34: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Notice that this scripture reference does not limit its approach only to our time on this earth; I strongly believe that it also applies to how we direct God’s resources when we leave.
What type of legacy do you want to leave? Sadly we have all probably attended a funeral at some point in time of our lives. At the funeral, we hopefully spend the majority of the time remembering the good times and memories of the person who has passed, but we also look to the lasting legacy that that person left while on the earth. What did he or she do to help others, to live life, to bring Glory to God? Now that they are gone, how did they establish a plan to continue the work that God entrusted to them while on the earth? We can see a couple of examples of this type of planning in the Bible. The first is in the book of Genesis 25:5-6, where we witness the first estate plan of the Bible. In it, Abraham leaves everything he owned to his son Isaac, but while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines. Also, in the book of John 19:26-27, we see Jesus providing for the future as well. While on the cross, it is stated that Jesus saw his mother and John and said to them, “Woman, here is your son,” and “Here is your mother.” Clearly Jesus knew that Mary would have to be cared for after his departure, thus he addressed this matter by planning accordingly and appointing John for this important role.
So, how do you want to leave? When you meet our Heavenly Father for the first time in a face to face manner, how will you answer the question of stewardship? Will you be able to not only tell God that you took care of his assets in an honorable manner while on the earth, but that you also established a plan that would continue that legacy after your departure? We all (hopefully) give to Ministries, Churches, and others in need during our lives, but what happens when you are gone? I personally think that there are not enough Pastors, Preachers, and Ministry leaders who think about this issue or present it to their congregation. Do you love your Church? Do you want your favorite Ministry to continue on for years to come? How are you going to help to make sure that this goal is accomplished? It is a question that we all must answer and I hope that you will reach the decision that God intends for you.