Will We Spend Our Children’s Inheritance?

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Traveling down the freeway, I saw it again. The bumper sticker on the luxury motor home said, “We’re spending our children’s inheritance.” Would we have seen this forty or fifty years ago? I think not. What has changed?
My mind went to the Sunday morning devotional. Brother Merlin’s (all names changed for confidentiality) chosen Scripture centered around Proverbs 23:23. Buy the truth, and sell it not; also, wisdom, and instruction, and understanding. Buy the truth? How does one do that? Sell it not; how could one sell the truth?
Brother Merlin had continued with an account of a business contact. Boyd Wenfred was a new client that week, and from visiting his business, it was obvious he was a part of the Anabaptist community. After the business transaction was completed, Merlin had asked Boyd where the Wenfred name originated. Boyd readily shared in the early 1900's a drunkard’s son had become converted and chosen to identify with the church in his community.
“I wonder what my life and my family’s story would be if someone many years ago had not chosen to be a disciple and cast his lot with the Anabaptists of his day. One ancestor’s choice to “buy the truth and sell it not’ has made all the difference for us.” Boyd ended, “and I am ever so grateful!”
I sat there and pondered the family circles of relatives before my time. Who were the ones that had chosen to “buy the truth” in their era, so I had the blessing of knowing New Testament discipleship today? I had a treasure I took for granted.
From research, I knew the stories of several godly ancestors that parted ways with their families and had chosen to buy the truth before me. In Boyd’s ancestry, he could point toward one man’s choice. I also thought of the many who in generations spurned the narrow way Jesus taught–it was just too much self-denial for them. What would they say now? Would they want Boyd and me to go to their descendants and beg them to buy the truth?
But then I pondered the other side of this thought. The writer penned ...and sell it not. Why the warning to sell not the truth? What would come into anyone’s heart so they would want to sell the truth? Is it similar to the change in people today who want to spend their children’s inheritance on their own hobbies and pursuits?
My mind went to a few acquaintances, friends and family who were raised in our church settings and have sold out to the American broad-way deception.
One reason is the free grace movement. Uncle Samuel and his family have chosen this popular “Christian” viewpoint of our day. This thought maintains that all one needs to do to be saved is to believe in Jesus as their Savior. They separate between people who want to be saved and people who want to be disciples. If you want to be saved, you just believe. If you want more rewards and privileges, then you should try to be a disciple. If you do enough obedience things, you may have the right to enter into through the gates into the city. If not, then you will enjoy heaven from outside the city. Some even teach there will be Christians who live in the “outer darkness” of heaven because they didn’t live very good lives on earth.
These people take scriptures that teach faith brings a person eternal life and construe it to mean that this salvation, once obtained, can never be lost. Their bottom-line philosophy is people can live the American dream with all its entertainment and luxury and still not be lost. The logic is, “If it takes no obedience whatsoever to make it to heaven, why then would anyone bother with the trappings of religious traditions?” This seems to be fulfillment of the prophecy Jude made as recorded in Jude 1:4, For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Closely connected to the free grace movement is an individualistic view of salvation. This is a prevailing mentality in our culture today. The proponents believe, “My salvation is between Jesus and me.” We don’t need anyone else, and certainly not a church with old fashioned rules and traditions. Individuals, couples and entire families go off on their own, away from brotherhood to live for their pleasure under the guise of having a superior form of Christian experience.
In contrast, the entire New Testament depicts believers banding together to form brotherhood. And in each brotherhood, individuals are called to submit one to another because the church as the bride and body of Christ is more important than any individual alone. Only the church as a body can keep the ordinances. Only the church as a body can practice biblical church discipline. Only the church can practice what is described in the New Testament as the norm for Christian living.
Another reason is having grown up in rigid/empty traditionalism. Jesus gave strong warning and challenge to the Pharisees and their system. There is the temptation that once we arrive at a workable practice of obedience that we may honor that practice more than the principle it is based on. A person can perhaps find a way to be obedient to a rule, and still express carnal desires but be overlooked because he keeps the rules of the church. He may even be in good standing and not have the Bible central in his experience if he learns the ropes, what to challenge and what to leave alone.
It doesn’t take long for people to see through this hypocrisy. If we claim to live the Bible, then let us love our applications and apply them consistently. Our witness to our children will be hindered if they can tell we only really cared about looking good on the outside and didn’t really have a converted heart within.
If obedient people are unloving or mean-spirited and contentious, then it may seem like an inheritance isn’t worth much.
One of my friends told me about his home life. He never remembers any family worship or of dad having personal devotions. There were angry words and fierce arguments. It seemed all was well if everyone combed their hair or dressed in the exact prescribed manner.
We know the heart of the gospel is love. There is something that resonates within our hearts when we know the love of a church body. We all long to belong to community, the fellowship of saints. It is right for us to think for ourselves, but we dare not sacrifice brotherhood to prove we are right.
There obviously are many other reasons. Some of these might be:
If children are raised under permissive parents and self-will rules their lives.
If personal defilement confuses the conscience.
If there is bitterness of spirit against some supposed injustice.
All these may send a person walking away from their godly heritage.
But what happens to a generation whose parents have sold out their spiritual inheritance?
We don’t have to look far to see the spiritual poverty of the descendants of those who stepped away from disciplined church life. People who no longer subscribe to modest dress somehow eventually fall prey to very serious things like divorce and remarriage! Why! Why isn’t there a halfway point?
Time and again we have heard of someone growing dissatisfied with a disciplined church life. After growing criticisms, they move away, sometimes geographically or oftentimes only church-wise. We ache in our hearts, wondering why we could not seem to bridge the gap and grow in appreciation, fellowship, and trust? What really is going on? We watch their trail of church shopping. Finally, it seems they are so far away we wonder if our hearts even ever beat together around the truth? And then we meet their children or grandchildren - sold out to the world and the pressures of the day. What went wrong? And why? We ask.
The bottom line is, never, never sell the truth. Keep buying it from others who love it and are not inclined to let it go. It is far better to lose some of the other “bargains” and “advantages” the world has to offer than it is to lose the truth. It is better to suffer some of the bumps and ouches of a disciplined brotherhood than to find a pain free church life that spends your children’s inheritance.