The words can be interchangeable, but inheritance and heritage are not the same. An inheritance involves monetary things that are titled to a descendant when one passes away, but a heritage is not just about things. It includes culture, traditions, and values that are passed on to the next generation. Some people receive money and property but no family values or godly traditions. Others receive a wealth of fabulous infrastructure, training, and life appreciation, but little money. What would you rather receive; an inheritance or a heritage? What would you rather give? It would be nice to receive both, and to give both. Receiving a financial inheritance requires no great character; receiving a godly heritage, however, depends on the goodness of the next generation. They can choose to embrace or reject a great heritage. Herein lies the challenge of the parent; in all their accumulating and giving, the most valuable preparations are building a rich heritage and passing on the values, traditions and infrastructure to their children. What advantage is a great mansion if one does not know how to love the people who will live in it? What advantage is money if one is not a light to the world?
“For God so loved the world that He gave” …, is not solely a verse focused on evangelism and getting people saved, it is about love. It points to the message of loving relationships. A Father sends a Son because He loves people. Over the years He plans, sacrifices, provides and endures human failures, yet He has great resolve. He is building a family that stretches over the generations. He is faithful to all generations and He is determined to leave an inheritance and to impart a heritage. In the end He will have a rich kingdom and a righteous family living with the character of Christ.
It is the goal of every godly family to pass on a legacy of riches and wealth that is both financial and full of godly values. Every great parent wants to leave a substantial inheritance to their children and grandchildren, but also to leave a heritage of greatness. How will they do it?
Young Christian parents face huge challenges; they are working on building a loving marriage, finding financial strength, and coping with the issues of personal purpose and placement. In the midst of this, they have children and want to provide for and train those children for greatness. They want to leave the next generation better than theirs.
It is easy to become weary and to lose sight of the basic building blocks that are the foundations of a biblical lifestyle. Some retreat to a wrong assumption. They think that love in the home is all that is needed. While this is vital and most important, in itself, it is not complete. A godly heritage cannot be fully developed in the home, it will require the church community as well. Over the years, I have seen many families draw back into the fortress of family life at the exclusion of church life. With the passing of time, I have never seen this to be successful. As the children become teens and adults they tend to reject the culture of their parents and become casual Christians at best. Usually, they do not shine for Christ.
The opposite is also dangerous. Parents who do not spend family time with their children because of an overdose of church activities can also find that their children become disinterested with the godly heritage that their parents want them to embrace.
Here are recommendations for grandparents and parents who want to pass on and receive a godly heritage of rich values and traditions for their children. Understand that a heritage is passed on before one dies, but remains for a long time after one is gone.
1. Children receive what parents do and not just what they preach. If you want your children to have godly lives you must teach godliness, and live godliness as well. Both are important.
2. Unbendable traditions should be taught. They are essential for training a child. A) Don’t miss church unless you are on vacation or really sick. And be loyal to one good church. B) Pay your tithes religiously. C) Each member of the family should be involved in a personal area of church life that applies to their age. Each must have personal ownership in the church community. D) Family time outside of church must be insisted upon on a consistent basis. E) Family fellowship, and godly traditions should be regular institutions in your home. Build godly traditions that the whole family is involved in, from holidays to meal-time prayers etc.
3. Provide right relationships, so that children play and interact with other children of similar values. Supervise their world. A wrong impartation from the wrong people will destroy a godly heritage. Godly friends, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and especially cousins are invaluable. Do not cut them off, but make room for them, if they are good people.
4. Give lots of personal time to your children and grandchildren. Do not just visit in front of a TV, but involve times where you create, recreate and talk about life together.
5. Train children to be worshippers, givers, and intercessors. Christian values, traditions and culture are imparted by doing and not just by watching.
6. Deal with offensive wounds. Injustice, abuse, and neglect leave lifelong scars. If they accumulate and are not talked through and resolved they will bring a wedge that hinders the movement of a godly heritage for the next generation. Offense is unavoidable, so lots of care, prayer, love and compensation are needed to overcome the power of an offense. It must be resolved.
7. Continually build new bridges as children become teens and adults. It is a shock to many parents when they see how much their children change as they get older. To maintain friendships, more time, care and thought is needed. Do not allow teen peer pressure to violate the traditions of your home, including all of the things mentioned in numbers 2 to 6 of this list. Fight to maintain friendships at every level within the family. That is the highway that a godly heritage will travel on. Whatever time is needed, give it.
Some folks wait too long to fix broken bridges in the family. When they try, the relational bridge will not hold the weight of correction. You cannot drive a 10 ton truck over a 2 ton bridge. The bridge of relationship must be continually rebuilt for every season. Bridge maintenance is vital.
Nothing More Satisfying
Nothing is more satisfying, then seeing the next generation receive and embrace the rich, godly heritage that is passed down from their parents and grandparents. So the earlier we begin to impart a godly heritage the better it is.
A good heritage must be prepared, maintained, fought for, imparted and received by the next generation. The results are spiritual blessings that filter down upon many generations to come.
One who is raised in such a family finds amazing blessings, protection, pleasant places, and a good heritage to pass on to their children. As children of God’s covenant, this is our expectation. We have been chosen, that we might inherit a blessing. (See 1Pet. 3:9)
The Psalmist says, “The Lord is my chosen and assigned portion, my cup; You hold and maintain my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places: yes, I have a good heritage.” Ps. 16:5-6 AV
As we move to a new season, let us focus on the heritage of the Lord; think generationally. The blessings of God should not fall away but increase. Fight for a full salvation to be extended to your whole family. It is for your children and your children’s children.