Inheritance or Entitlement?

When I was in the reverse mortgage business, I came across many horrifying stories of greedy adult children who saw their elderly parents as little more than temporary stewards of their entitled inheritance. In so many cases, the adult children were concerned less about their parents wishes and comfort because they felt that the more that Mom and/or Dad needed to get by would mean less for them after the parents were gone.

What made these stories particularly sad was that the parents would gladly exchange their own comfort and desires if they could have a healthy, loving relationship with their children. But instead, the children only came around when they needed something. In other cases, the parents would be ignored almost entirely.

A recent situation has come up relatively close to me. In this case, a family member is the last living adult child of parents who owned a home in San Francisco. He came to the funeral of his mother several years ago, but not his father, or either of his sisters, all of whom passed away within the last three years. He has not been part of this family in any way other than a technicality. But now, he feels he is entitled to whatever has been left behind, rather than the surviving family members who had active relationships with those who have passed on.

When I heard of this development, it got me to thinking of so many people who believe that by simply being a good person, by not killing anyone, and by giving to charities, that they will go to heaven. They believe in God, but they don’t know Him. Just like the man to whom I referred in the previous paragraph, they are a child of the Father, but there is no relationship at all. 

God has an inheritance prepared for those who enter into a personal relationship with Him. Heaven and eternal life is promised to those who walk in relationship with Him. There will be many very disappointed people who will find out that simply believing in God is not good enough. I believe Donald Trump exists, but we don’t have a relationship. I can’t show up at the reading of his will expecting to inherit a hotel or millions of dollars.

There is a difference between inheritance and entitlement. An inheritance is a privilege, a gift that comes as a benefit of relationship. Entitlement comes by way of law or contract. If you work, you are entitled to a paycheck. God is not obligated to us in any way, except to be true to His word. God loves us whether we love Him or not. But God has prepared a place for eternity which is exclusive to those who chose Him in this life. 

Don’t be like the estranged family member who feels they are entitled to all the rewards when they went a lifetime avoiding a relationship with the One who lived, died, and rose again to provide it. The benefits of a relationship with Him is available to us today, as well as for eternity.

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