THE ETERNAL INHERITANCE
An 'inheritor' is the rightful heir of a legacy bequeathed to him or her by another person. Referring to Christ's death for our salvation (deliverance from sin and death), Hebrews 9:15 says, "For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant (agreement), that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance." Inheritors of the legacy of salvation offered by God are those who have confessed and given up their sinful ways and by faith received Jesus Christ into their hearts as their Saviour and Lord (read Zacchaeus' testimony in Luke 19:5-9). God forgives their sins and justifies them in His presence (1Jn.1:9). The Word of God warns us of the danger of ignoring this salvation which God in Christ lovingly offers to everyone who will receive it by faith. There is no escape for anyone who ignores and rejects God's most precious gift of salvation (Heb.2:1-3).
When you received this gift (I hope you have), you were forgiven and set free from the penalty (punishment) and power of sin; your name was written in the book of life in heaven (Lk.10.20). You also have the assurance from God's Word that on the day of final redemption you will be delivered from the very presence of sin and all of its ugly manifestations. Describing the new Jerusalem (heaven) in Revelation 21, the apostle John writes, "Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Rev.21:27).
The Temporal Inheritance
It is necessary for us to earn our livelihood by honest labour so that we can provide for the physical and material needs of our families and to help the poor and the needy around us. (Exo. 23: 12; Acts. 20:33-35; Eph. 4:28; 1 Thess.4:11; 2Thess. 3:10; 1 Tim. 5:4,8).
However, there is the danger of our falling into the snare of the devil when we give in to the lure of mammon by overworking to get that extra amount of money. We fail to realise that we are compromising on the time and attention we need to give to more important matters concerning God's kingdom. In our preoccupation with work, we tend to become oblivious to the fact that our God-directed motivation to work in order to provide for our needs and for the needs of the poor has been replaced by selfishness and greed for more wealth (1Tim.6:17-19; Jas.5:1-3)!
Alas, too many Bible-believing and church-going Christians are falling a prey to this subtle trap of the devil and are drifting far away from the God-ordained principles that govern the management of labour and wealth. This situation is all the more alarming when we quote verses from God's Word out of context to justify our greed and selfish pursuits. In our busyness we fail to see that our focus has dangerously shifted from God's promise of the eternal inheritance (Heb.9:15) to the fleeting wealth of this transient world (Col.3:2).
Israelites' Bondage In Egypt
We have the glaring example of the bondage of Israel in Egypt. They were made to work so hard and long hours that they had no time to worship their God. Having realised that the situation was beyond their control, they cried out to God for deliverance. God heard their cry and led them out of Egypt so that they could worship Him. Unless and until we wake up to the grim reality of being enslaved by the idolatrous and materialistic system of this world, we will not sense the need to cry out to God for deliverance from it. Admitting that the situation we are in is beyond our control and then praying consistently for God's intervention is the first step to freedom. The earlier we wake up to this reality the better it is for us (1Cor.7:29a,31).
The apostle Paul's advice to the Corinthian believers, and to us, is, "Now let me say this, dear brothers and sisters: The time that remains is very short, so husbands should not let marriage be their major concern. Happiness or sadness or wealth should not keep anyone from doing God's work. Those in frequent contact with the things of the world should make good use of them without becoming attached to them, for this world and all it contains will pass away" (1Cor.7:29-31 NLT).
God waited to deliver the Israelites from their bondage. He is waiting to deliver us from our bondage. Let our cry go up to Him!
The Danger Of Losing The First Love An inevitable result of our busy schedule in the pursuit of wealth is a situation where we are unable to give enough time for prayer, Bible study and fellowship with fellow-believers. Sadly, we do not even see the reality that we have drifted away from the narrow path of life to the broad path of destruction in pursuit of everything but God's kingdom and His righteousness. Seeking God's kingdom and righteousness means living for God and making His kingdom principles (not this world's) our primary concern. Having cut down on our communion with God and fellowship with His people, we lose sight of God's righteous standards and establish our own standards of what is good and bad, right and wrong. This is a situation where God's light and life that we inherited when we were born spiritually become dim in our hearts and we turn lukewarm in our love for the Lord! A very dangerous situation for God's children to be in (Rev.3:14-20)!
We are rich beyond measure because our inheritance is God Himself and all His wealth! Isn't that incredible! The Lord said to Aaron, the first high-priest of Israel, "You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them: I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites" (Num.18:20). As far as worldly riches were concerned, in return for the work they did while serving at the Tent of Meeting, the Lord gave Aaron and his children, the Levites, all the tithes collected in Israel. Under the new covenant, the Lord Jesus is our High Priest and we His disciples are the priests who represent God in this world doing the ministry of reconciling God and man (1Pet.2:9; 2 Cor. 5:18,19).
The apostle Paul prayed thus for the Christians at Ephesus, "I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the wonderful future He has promised to those He called. I want you to realise what a rich and glorious inheritance He has given to His people" (Eph.1:18 NLT). Another translation of the second part of this verse simplifies the truth, "I realise how much God has been honoured by acquiring His people."
Oh that we Christians turn our eyes upon Jesus, that we remain focussed on Him in whom we have been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit! Our eternal inheritance has been guaranteed by God until our final redemption or salvation from the very presence of sin (Rom.8:23; Eph.1:13,14).
Do We Deserve God's Blessings?
None of us deserves any of God's blessings and wealth; and yet He wants to bless us immensely because we are His heirs, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, His Son! However, His blessings are conditional. What are those conditions? Here's what the apostle Paul told the Christians in Rome and tells you and me today:
"So, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation whatsoever to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you keep on following it, you will perish. But, if through the power of the Holy Spirit you turn from it and its evil deeds, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So, you should not be like cowering fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God's very own children, adopted into His family-calling Him Father, dear Father. For His Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we are God's children. And since we are His children, we will share His treasures-for everything God gives to His Son, Christ, is ours, too. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering" (Rom. 8:12-17 NLT).
May our labour of love yield the sweet fruit of God's temporal and eternal blessings that He longs to shower on all who yield their lives to Jesus Christ and remain in His love. May we be willing to loosen our grip on the perishing riches of this world and hold on to the inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade (1 Pet.1:4-5).