Updated: Jan 11, 2020
synonyms: legacy, bequest, endowment, birthright, estate, heritage, bestowal, benefaction, provision, patrimony;
The word inheritance is used many times in the Bible. Sometimes I like to research how many times the Bible uses a certain word and in what context. The results were interesting: in the Old Testament, the word inheritance was mainly used to reference land, livestock, and possessions. A family's inheritance would be used to settle the score amoungst wrong-doers or as a way of honoring the future of a great leader. Gold, cattle, vineyards, and armies were often tallied as additions to an inheritance. The major exception was Abraham when God told him his inheritance would outnumber the stars; a promise that, for the first time, referenced people.
When I think of God's inheritance, my imagination fills with whimsy, child-like images of heaven: it seems far away and mysterious. However, God's promise to Abraham was not only unique in subject, but the subject itself would be a foundational reason for the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ.
When Paul rights to the Ephesians he says: "I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people," (Ephesians 1:16-18)
I not only thought about the verse, but I also thought about who it was coming from. Paul, although anointed in the highest ways, was new to Christianity himself. He preaches with such conviction and purpose as if he's known the benefits of Jesus his entire life. However, I found it interesting that his message didn't seem to say "don't worry all, after this we go to Heaven." Instead he says "the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people." Again, I felt like God's Word was talking about real people on this side of heaven. I wasn't sure if I was reading it correctly, so I looked other places...
Psalm 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.
Psalm 94:14 For the Lord will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance.
Colossians 1:12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
Colossians 3:24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
I always thought the "inheritance", the "reward", the "prize" that is referenced in so much of the New Testament was talking about our life after Earth, and in many verses it does. But I take my own life as a case study. When I recommitted my life to God in the spring of 2018, the number one thing that changed was how I viewed, loved, and received people. My vision changed. I saw faults and shortcomings translating into insecurities and deep wounds. I realized that everyone is the way they are for a reason and that only God can know what those reasons truly are. When I opened my mind and risked my heart toward people that I previously judged, I inherited them.
In Abraham's case, he was told numerous times that he would be the father of many nations and that Sarah would have children even though she was in her nineties. Abraham and Sarah longed for just one child; hard to fathom being a father of a nation. Yet, those nations are still talked about to this day.
What if our inheritance is people? Influence? Leadership? Also known as a great responsibility. Maybe that's why we don't call it an inheritance... because it's not comfortable and easy; it's people and people are messy. They come with secrets, wounds, fears, handicaps, and self-doubt. Loving them, building them, and speaking life into them will feel more draining than rewarding.
So the next question is why? Why when we commit to obeying God and trying to create a heart like His, does life seem to fill with more complicated people? Here's where we need to remember two key things:
1. A long look in the mirror should answer this question. God has left the 99 for you and for me.
2. God has prepared us to run into these people. He doesn't want to put them in front of another person that will judge their cover again. He wants them in front of people who have the skills and experience to look past the obvious and dig for the God-shaped hole in their hearts.
You are that person. This inheritance is yours because you are tough enough to handle it. If not you, then who?