Sunday, May 15, 2005

A Good Man Leaves an Inheritance

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children. (Proverbs 13:22)
Here is wisdom for fathers, although that is not what the writer calls them here. He simply says, “a good man.” But two things tip us off that this good man is, in fact, a father:
  • He has children.
  • He leaves an inheritance.
Okay, maybe the first one is an obvious mark of fatherhood, but the second is not so obvious. At least, not so obvious to us today because we have forgotten something very important about fatherhood: The essence of fatherhood is inheritance.

That is, a father always passes something on to his children. Some pass on little more than DNA. Others pass on character traits, whether good or bad. Some pass on inheritance without vision, which is foolish. Others pass on wisdom and vision as part of the inheritance.

God’s way in the world is inheritance. We discover this in the Creation account, for God created every living thing to yield “after its kind.” That is how they fill the earth — not created from scratch each time, but each multiplying the inheritance and increasing it with each generation. Adam and Eve were to be fruitful and multiply the image of God and fill the earth with His glory.

An inheritance is not for squandering. That is what happens when there is no vision, no revelation of the heart of the father (and of the Father). No, an inheritance is to be received and enlarged by faith and wisdom, and then is passed on to the next generation.

How can you tell when you have effectively passed your inheritance onto your children? Proverbs 13:22 gives us the answer. You can tell you have been successful in passing it on to your children when you see that your children have passed it onto theirs.

Ah, now we see how much wisdom it takes to be a father, a good man. Now, “father” and “good man” should not be restricted only to the male of the species. Gender issues aside, women can also be “fathers” and “good men,” for all of us, male and female, are created to multiply the inheritance of God upon the earth, to be “fathers” in the Spirit.

That is one reason why, when the Holy Spirit is poured out on all flesh (as at Pentecost in Acts 2), it is the sons and daughters who prophesy. Even more interesting in regard to inheritance is that, though “your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17). You see, the old men are not reminiscing about the “good old days.” They are dreaming dreams. That is, they are oriented toward the future. They are not remembering what the inheritance used to be, they are dreaming about how it will multiply and what it will become. They are fathers, and they are good men.

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children because he is oriented toward the future. He is dreaming dreams for the sake of future generations. His inheritance becomes a manifestation of faith, patience and expectation, to bless even his children’s children.