“A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.”
Webster’s dictionary defines good as “a favorable character or tendency; praiseworthy character.” When someone is good or has a praiseworthy character, others might see a tendency in them to help others by applying what they know in a practical way so that others derive a benefit.
When Solomon penned the words of this Proverb 13, I believe he had both the present and the world to come in mind. An inheritance is created by the abundance that has been accumulated during life that is passed down from one generation to another. Solomon says that the man/woman who has the combination of goodness and accumulated wealth will pass it down to his children’s children.
While it is possible to inherit a trait, mannerism, characteristic or genetic condition from past generations, this Proverb speaks specifically to property. In order to inherit property, a donor is usually dead. An inheritance is a legacy that remains after the departure of its creator. If they are alive, there is no inheritance because the wealth is still being used by its creator.
Someone once said that “it takes a smart person to make a fortune, but a genius to keep it.” The later part of our scripture text affirms this, saying that any wealth gained by anything other than goodness will eventually become the possession of the good people. It says that the wealth of the sinner (those who miss the mark or go wrong) is the holding place until it transfers into the hands of the righteous. The text infers that the just, or the good people will then leave it as an inheritance to their children’s children. It may not happen right away, but this Proverb (a collection of moral sayings and counsels) gives assurance that it will happen.
In a practical sense, everyone needs to leave an inheritance to future generations. Many things with monetary value can be left as an inheritance by using good financial and estate planning tools such as wills, trusts and life insurance. But an inheritance should be more than material goods and property. Legacies of character and moral value are also important to leave.
I had the wonderful privilege to officiate a home going service where I saw an inheritance of character, class and sophistication displayed over multiple generations. I’ve officiated many services for those who made it to the century mark, but I have never seen one to have as many as were at this celebration of life. Jannie Nix was a woman who lived beyond 100 years and had an entire chapel full of family members and long-time friends who spoke of the riches they gleaned from this good woman, a testament to her goodness and character. She left an inheritance to her grandchildren’s children. She handled her business well. There is no better way that I can think of to encourage you to handle your business!
Rev. J. Loren Russell is an associate minister at both Goodwill and The Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx, President/CEO of The JLR Company for Church Financial & Strategic Consulting, and hosts “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Soul 1 Radio, Mondays 8:00 – 10:00 PM. Listen here or by phone at 626-226-1448. Be sure to friend “Matters of Faith” on Facebook, Twitter @jlorenr, and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.