Your Life. Your You’re His Legacy.
At the last supper of Jesus Christ, just before He was betrayed, Jesus surrounded Himself with His disciples and taught them a new tradition – what we call communion or the Eucharist. Jesus said to them, “[d]o this in remembrance of me.”
Two key components to Biblical estate planning are remembrance and stewardship. Remembrance refers to holding an idea or creed in your heart and mind to give it prominence in your life. Stewardship refers to actions you take in response to that idea or creed. The desire to do this accurately is the reason why estate plans are written down.
Your Last Will & Testament is just that, orders alongside a final testimony. It is a public document that may be filed with the courthouse for the entire world to see. Its purpose is to memorialize your thoughts and wishes in writing and add power and certainty to your words. In many ways, it’s how you “put your money where your mouth is.” Your Last Will represents your desires of how to “spend” your money, and your Testament is your last word. Whatever you decide to do in your estate plan, your heirs will notice and remember. Your loved ones will look at what you left behind as a way to help them keep your memory alive. The question every estate planner should ask themselves is “what do I want to be remembered for?”
Let your criticisms be written in dust, and your affirmations written in stone.
Your New Testament
Your last testament is your opportunity to encourage and affirm loved ones. All throughout our lives we gather knowledge through learning and experiences. We hold concepts and ideas in our hearts and it shapes who we are and how we act. This generational wisdom can be shared as part of your testimony. You should declare to your heirs what they should know to thrive in the generation to come, and remind them of the importance of Gospel truths. This really should be done throughout life. The Bible says “train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). If you have spent your life investing in a loved one, they would love to have some final words of encouragement. “Teach them [children] the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform.” (Exodus 18:20). Your testament is another chance to “show” them the way they are to live and how they are to perform. “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4). If you did not make something clear during life, you can make it clear in your last testament.
Legacy isn’t about us. It’s about God working through us for His glory, not ours.
– Charles R. Swindoll
For a Christian, we are called to uphold the legacy of Jesus Christ. You’ve heard that you cannot take it all with you when you die. “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” (1 Timothy 6:7). Writing an estate plan is the process by which you choose your last acts of stewardship to be carried out once you are gone. So, what are they? Read Ephesians 2:8-10.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Congratulations, you are reading this today because you are one of the responsible ones. Your master gave you a job to do. Ask yourself, “what has God made me responsible for, and what action can I take through estate planning to accomplish those goals?”
Some say the last act we are to do is to “give it all back.” This is true, but where to give it all back to is still open to interpretation. For some this means giving to the local church – not a bad idea since the local church often knows who could use resources the most and is equipped to serve. Still, a large gift of money has the power to destroy. You should determine whether your gift will serve someone or destroy them.
The kingdom of God encompasses the church at large, all missionaries and ministries, plus orphans and widows. You and your God are the only ones that know where you are supposed to leave the reigns. God made you with unique passions and interests so you could serve in His kingdom in your own special way. What is it?
For many, entire lives have been spent investing and training up children. For these, their familial lineage is the right place to direct the awesome resources God entrusted to them. God has told you who is worthy to carry the torch forward. Who is it?
- A strong local church is a good legacy.
- Bequeathing a Christian worldview is a good legacy.
- Helping the poor and needy is a good legacy.Saving souls is a good legacy.
- Engaging with the community is a good legacy.
- Teaching children to do the same with and through your literal estate plan, is a good legacy.
In summary, estate planning less about how much wealth you have, but instead about why you have it. What you are going to do with it is between you and God. You should put it in writing.
It’s your life, and His legacy.
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Go back to Part I: What does the Bible say about legacies and estate planning?
Go back to the Christian Estate Toolkit homepage.