What a will won’t do

This morning Fiona and I were discussing wills. We’d had my will drawn up while I was in hospital, when things were looking pretty grim. We reckoned it was important to get my affairs in order. But, it’s no less important to attend to Fiona’s affairs, so we figured she should draw up a will too.

It’s a bit morbid writing wills, thinking about who we want to get what when we die. Mostly it’s about possessions… the house, cars, bank accounts, superannuation, life insurance, all the books, fishing tackle, camping gear, my ‘limited edition commemorative 2004 championship-winning embroidered and framed Brumbies jersey’… and some other stuff!

However, the big concern is not our stuff. It’s deciding who’ll look after the children if we’re taken from them. We want to make sure our children will be in good hands. We want people who’ll care for them, protect them, teach them, encourage them, discipline them and, most of all, love them. We want people who share our priorities and values and beliefs.

At the end of the day, it’s not about preparing to financially compensate our kids for losing their parents. It’s not about giving our children financial security. There’s no such thing really. We do our children a huge disservice if we teach them that life can be measured by money in the bank or possessions in the hand. We rob them of the joy of trusting God to meet their needs if we influence them to covet a potential inheritance.

Jesus famously taught…

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Matthew 6:25-27)

On another occasion, Jesus got caught up in a domestic dispute over an inheritance and he had these words of warning…

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 10:13-15)

What a great reminder. Our lives are not to be measured by how much we earn, or save, or have. We’re not the sum total of our mortgages, bank accounts, or life insurance. Economic measures have their place, but they don’t define who we are or what we’re worth.

As Christian parents, who believe in life after death with God for all who trust in Jesus, there’s a far more significant legacy we want to leave our children. One that can’t be measured by an accountant, or distributed by a solicitor. We want them to look forward to an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you. ( 1 Peter 1:3-5)

This is not something we can give our kids, but God can! We can point them in the right direction. We can remind them of God’s generous offer of eternal life. We can model sitting loose to stuff, not trusting in hollow promises of financial security, and trusting in God for all our needs. As Jim Elliot wrote before losing his life, he is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

We can’t write these things in our wills, but we can pray that God will write them on the hearts of each of our children.

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