Should You Leave Your Children an Inheritance?

YES, But the real question is "what inheritance" ?

A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children …”
— Proverbs 13:22 NIV

There is a debate about whether or not it is good for a parent to leave an inheritance to their children.  The rationale goes something like this; generational wealth is a disincentive and prevents children from becoming hard working productive adults. I have personally seen what generational money has produced in families both for good and for evil. Money left to foolish or unfit children can be used to support poor lifestyle choices. But I have also seen generational wealth used to do great good through the careful stewardship of the family’s legacy. But most of us are not in the position to pass down great wealth to our children. So the real question is not if you leave an inheritance but what kind of inheritance will you leave? Let’s look at what Scripture says about inheritances.  

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, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you
— 1 Peter 1:3-4 NIV

This  inheritance comes to those who have been transformed in their hearts so they are fit to enjoy the riches of God’s glory.  God is working on both you and your children's character now so that you will be fit to receive his unimaginable blessings later. Scripture makes it very clear that God does not grant his inheritance to those who will neither desire it nor appreciate it; He will not force it upon us.

For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
— Ephesians 5:5 NIV

What kind of inheritance are you  leaving your children? It is important to understand that wealth is the least precious inheritance you can give them. If your child has not developed the moral capacity to properly administer wealth that wealth will only be used to feed their folly. However, if your child has developed wisdom and established godly character traits then riches handed down can accomplish great good.

Your true inheritance is not in the size of their trust funds but rather the quality of their character.

Are you laying a foundation for your child that will bless them for the rest of their lives? Your true inheritance is not in the size of their trust funds but the quality of their character. You may not leave a penny to your children and still bequeath them great wealth that will pay dividends well beyond their brief lifetime. Many parents wrongly believe that leaving their children money will somehow make up for their lack of moral instruction. Indeed, it is much harder to build good character in your child than to leave them material possessions for the simple reason one must first possesses the qualities that are being taught. And that means the responsibility is squarely on the parent to be what they want their child to become.

So, my friends, here’s a question; what was passed down to you by your parents and what are you now passing on to your children? Is it consistent with God’s eternal truth and carry them victoriously into God’s Kingdom? Or are your parenting priorities contaminated by transient worldly falsehoods? Indeed, we were created for an inheritance, “that can never perish, spoil or fade”, and the greatest legacy you can leave your children is to introduce them to this eternal inheritance.

Here is a list of some of this world’s priorities verses God’s eternal truths. Consider each one carefully and ask God to reveal to you if any of these worldly priorities have crept into your life.

  • External appearance rather than internal reality
  • Conditional acceptance rather than unconditional love
  • Material comfort rather than sacrificial living
  • Anxiety over the future rather than resting in God’s faithful provision
  • Holding resentments rather than giving forgiveness

If you’re reading this with an open heart then you’re probably feeling pretty uncomfortable right now. We all fall short and need God’s sustaining grace to transform us so that we can pass on a godly inheritance to our children. But don’t lose heart. Even in your imperfect parenting God will cause your life to be an example of his grace and a light that will lead them to their eternal heavenly inheritance.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
— Matthew 5:16

As always if you have any comments or questions don’t hesitate to put them in the box below. And if we can pray for you we’d love to do that too!