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An Inheritance to Remember

My Friend Debbie Proverbs 13:22 (NIV) "A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children, but a sinner's wealth is stored up for the righteous."

     What is an inheritance? According to Webster's Dictionary, an inheritance is something received or left by a predecessor. That means something you have obtained from someone who has gone before you. Let's think about that for a minute. Years ago, it would have been normal for parents to leave an inheritance of a business or the family farm to a child. However, times have changed and there are not as many family-owned businesses or farms to be inherited.

     What would you say you've been left by someone? What have you inherited? The most common inheritance today would be an aspect of a person's character, some part of who he or she was. Have you ever heard someone compare you to your mom or dad? How about, "She laughs just like her mom?" "Or she's a hard worker just like her dad?" Sometimes the comparisons may not be so nice. For example, "She acts as stubborn as her father " or "I wish she wouldn't act like her mom."

     The verse in Proverbs quoted above says a "good man" leaves something he has passed on to his children's children, his grandchildren. This verse makes me think about my grandfather, Eckie Reynolds. He was a "good man," so what did he leave as an inheritance for me? First of all, he was a godly man. He had a good name and a good reputation in town. He was a man of order and truth and one of the greatest things people tell me about him was that he always had his Bible in his hand and he could quote entire chapters of the Bible, not just verses. Those characteristics are an inheritance that I gladly receive and will cherish.

My Friend Debbie      However, my focus today is not on what we have been left but rather what WE are leaving. What will others who follow behind us in the next generation or two be able to say was a worthy inheritance from us?

     In order to leave a worthy inheritance for others, we have to be conscious of who we are, what we are doing, and the example we are setting. A writer, named Clarence Kelland, said, "My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived and let me watch him do it." A good man, just by being good and doing good,by honoring the Lord with his life will ensure a worthy inheritance for the following generations through his own life example.

Some of the greatest inheritances we can leave to the younger generation:

     An Inheritance of Integrity - I Chronicles 29:17 (NIV) "I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity." Integrity is found in someone who is faithful and loyal, a person who is true to her word, one who completes the promises she makes. A faithful woman is reliable, trusted and believable. She adheres to facts and truth and lives by standards. Proverbs 10:9 (NIV) "The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out." An inheritance worth leaving is one that is true and honorable. God honors a woman of integrity and of truth. My father, Howard Reynolds, is a man of integrity, a man known for keeping his word. I admire that characteristic in my husband as well. He has a good name among people because of his integrity.

     An Inheritance of Humility - 1 Peter 5:5 -7 (NIV) "Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time." The opposite of humility is pride; God clearly opposes those who are proud.

     Have you seen the movie or read the book, Charlotte's Web? The main character is a pig named Wilbur. Wilbur is scared of the end of the season because he knows he's going to end up on the dinner table. Charlotte, a spider that lives in Wilbur's barn, begins to spin webs calling attention to Wilbur's virtues. Wilbur is astonished to find notes about how "wonderful," "radiant," and "terrific" he is. He is especially moved by the final characteristic Charlotte attributes to his name: humble.

     "Well," Charlotte asks Wilbur, "What do you think?"

     "It's a great word," answers Wilbur. "It's just . . . "

     "Just what?" Charlotte asks.

     "Is it the right word? Is it true? 'Cause I don't really feel like I deserve any of the things you've written about me."

     To which Charlotte responds, "Then it is the perfect word." A test of humility is when we feel we don't deserve the praise of others.

     1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV) gives us a hint about what God looks for. Samuel, God's prophet, was on a mission to find a new king. God told him what not to look for and what to look for. The Bible says, "But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'"

     An Inheritance of Righteousness: James 1:25 (NIV) "The man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it- he will be blessed in what he does." My Friend Debbie

     Sometimes choosing righteousness means you may lose a friend or the advancement in a job. But if you did right, God will honor it. Righteousness is a lifestyle. It's a choice.

     With every act of righteousness, every truthful word, every courageous act, every correct step, we are leaving the right inheritance to those we are preceding. James 1:25 says, "If you hear what's right and do what's right, you will be blessed!" Righteousness is an inheritance of blessing.

An Inheritance of Eternity:

     At the funeral of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, his son Michael described the greatest gift a child can receive. He said, "I was so proud to have the Reagan name and to be Ronald Reagan's son. What a great honor. He gave me a lot of gifts...but there's a greater gift he gave me as a father. Last Saturday, when he opened his eyes for the last time, that's when I realized the gift that he gave to me: that he was going to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Back in 1988, as we were on a flight together, he told me about his love of God, his love of Christ as his Savior. I didn't know then what it all meant. But I certainly know now. I can't think of a better gift for a father to give a son than hope for eternity."

     No matter what great things you do in life, if your own children don't love the Lord, you'll look back on your life with regret. It doesn't matter if you're a successful businessman or the best in what you do. The greatest gift you can give the next generation is your testimony of a real God, a real hope and a real eternity.

Proverbs 13:22 (NIV) "A good man leaves an Inheritance for his children's children (in others words his grandchildren), but a sinner's wealth is stored up for the righteous."

     A legacy is the type of person you are, being given as a gift to be cherished by others. Be sure that the person you are will be a gift cherished by your children and your children's children. The inheritance you leave for the next generation and the following generation depends on the type of person you are right now.

     As I quoted Kelland earlier, "My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived and let me watch him do it."

Mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, cousins and friends - what impact is your life having? Will it have an impact on the next generation that is an inheritance worthy of remembrance?

Our Prayer for Today:

     "Lord, I need you. I understand that I am weak and without you I will never be the person you designed for me to be. Help me to live my life in such a way that it will be a cherished gift by the generation to come. May my lifestyle of integrity, humility and righteousness be engraved in the memories of those I influence. Most importantly, let me share the hope in the one, true God who gives eternal life.

     I dedicate myself to you once again and ask for godly wisdom to encompass all I do. Amen."

     Additional Note: During the course of preparing this devotional, I asked my two oldest children what would be some of the things they would remember most about me if I were gone. It was neat for me to hear their responses: the spiritual as well as not spiritual things. It opened my eyes to see what they view as important to me.

Copyright © 2008-2015 Melinda Henderson

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