“I, being of sound mind, do hereby bequeath…” When my mother passed on to her reward in Heaven, those somber sounding words soon took on new meaning to me. I was one of Mama’s heirs. My name, along with others, was there on her legal document with the directions of what she wished to transpire upon her demise. Mama was no longer with us — but those few neatly typed words in her Last Will and Testament spoke for her, seriously and finally: “I do hereby bequeath…” She was never wealthy, but all she had she passed on with those words. I would gladly have given up all my inheritance to have Mama alive again. But that was not to be.
Days passed, maybe weeks. It was all sort of a blur. But it had to be done. So I finally began to do what had become my responsibility, that of sorting through Mama’s personal things so that certain matters could be completed. She had always been a godly wife and mother who had sacrificed her life for the sake of her family. There was not much, just a few small trinkets and keepsakes and the box of notes and various writings that she had written over the years. It was there in that box that I found mirrored who Mama was, what was in her heart. I was not an heir simply of money and things, Mama had bequeathed something of far greater value; I had received a rich legacy.
Webster’s dictionary says a “legacy” or “heritage” is something passed on to heirs; but usually applies to something other than actual property or material things. My mother had passed on to me her belief in God and her love for His commands and ways. She had endeavored all her life to install them in me as her child. But it was only as I read her “thoughts” through her poems and notes after her death that I gained a glimpse of the real value of what I had received. And it was up to me; what would be the end results of it all?
Thoughts began to weigh heavily on my mind. Thoughts of what heritage would I pass on to those I love? Would it be money? Land? Houses? Or, would the heritage I leave to my children have eternal value? And — would they receive it gladly, or despise it?
We read in the Bible of Esau. He despised his birthright (his heritage), so he sold it . We might say, he threw it away considering what he got in place of it. Yet what is often overlooked in Esau’s story is that he did not just sell, or throw away his birthright. In reality, he stole his son’s birthright, and his grandson’s birthright, and so on. They never even had a choice in the matter.
Could anyone ever think that Esau’s son - or later his grandson, and indeed his whole posterity, would have chosen for him to sell his birthright given him by Isaac? It was a heritage that could have changed the entire direction and future of their lives if only they had had the chance to receive it. Esau made a very foolish choice. But what about me: Would I be an “Esau?” Would I sell my birthright?
The most important legacy or heritage a person could ever receive from a grandparent or parent is a solid belief in God’s Word and His principles — with the understanding of the need to abide by His standards. Yet, anyone who has been blessed with having such a heritage passed on has a choice. We can gratefully receive it, and by God’s grace, endeavor to keep our heritage untarnished — and pass it on to our children; Who, in time, will do the same and pass it on to their children, and so on. Or, we can be like Esau.
When a parent who has been blessed to have a godly heritage makes compromising choices here and there -- they are not passing on their heritage to their children. Instead, they are stealing their child’s inheritance, and their child’s child’s inheritance. Because those children, if given a choice, may desire the heritage of their grandparents and great-grandparents, if only they had been given the chance.
How many parents are there today, who, like Esau, once had a legacy from their parents? They had been raised in godly homes and taught God’s ways. But along the way, they thought, “what’s wrong with a little of this or that? I’m not going to live by the rules of those ol’ fogies.” Until finally, like Esau, they despise their birthright and sell it for a more contemporary Christianity -- an easier one with no “cross,” thus no commitments — except to the world’s ways, ideas, and entertainment.
We read the warning of God in Jeremiah 6:16, “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the way: and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for you souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.”