We can’t take our money with us, but we can see others come to faith in Christ through what the Lord provides.
For many years on the radio, I have talked about the importance of taking a biblical approach to estate planning. For over 30 years, as I have helped many plan and grow their finances, I have come to understand how essential it is to provide a detailed road map for how and when our assets should be allocated both before and after the Lord decides to call us home.
Even after we have carefully made these important financial decisions, we should be prepared to constantly update our wills and estate plans. With ever-changing tax laws, we must think long-term—and think ahead.
The biblical approach to estate planning is centered on God’s desire for us to plan carefully. As a matter of fact, Proverbs 15:22 clearly states that without counsel and without plans, they (plans, that is) will “quickly go away ...” They’ll go awry. “... but in the multitude of counselors they are established.” Scripture also tells us that it is “the foolish man who does not plan wisely.” To plan wisely and prudently, we need to seek out wise counsel.
But what about the scriptural references—the ones that tell us not to worry? In Matthew 12:24, Jesus makes it clear that God provides for even the birds of the air. “And of how much more value are you than the birds?” There are many other scriptural references that talk against the idea of building bigger barns or silos, so we can store up our wealth. I particularly like Luke Chapter 12, where Jesus tells the parable of the rich fool.
Someone from the crowd comes to Christ and asks Him to talk to his brother about dividing an inheritance. Jesus certainly understands this man is probably asking from a heart of greed and says to him, “Who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” And then in verse 15, Jesus turns to the crowd and says: “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”
In verses 17-20, Jesus also speaks of a man who had much wealth and was questioning it. This man asked, “What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?” He decided this plan might work—he would pull down his barns and build bigger ones to store his crops and goods. “And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’” But the Lord said to him, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?” (NKJV)
We, too, have that option. We can continue to do our estate planning with the idea that one of the accomplishments of a well-thought-out estate plan will allow us to accumulate and save more of our riches, our goods or those things that God has provided for us. We must make a number of decisions, certainly, as we plan the stewardship of our financial resources, but an important question is this: Will we contemplate building bigger barns for all of the wealth God has provided to us? And does our wealth determine our heart?
Will we consider that most of what we are growing will be of little consequence in the kingdom? Let’s focus on growing more comfortable in providing for a bigger kingdom, not a bigger barn. The Lord makes it very clear that we can’t take it with us, but we can see others come to the kingdom by what we are doing with what He has provided us.
This is known as laying up eternal wealth. We are not to hoard our resources so we may have an easy life, for example, when we retire. But there is a balance. We are to continue to give of our first fruits, and that should never change, regardless of how little we are able to save for our retirement. We are continually to be givers to God and to kingdom work.
When we think of planning for the future, there must be a wise and godly, well-thought-out plan—one that we take before the Lord and pray about as we ask for discernment in developing that plan. We have the responsibility to plan not only for our estate and heirs, but also for the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 4: “Let a man so consider us as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found faithful.”
Paul is reminding us that we have stewardship responsibility for the mysteries of God. It can be frightening to think we have stewardship responsibility for the Gospel. We all can’t be preachers, teachers, missionaries or evangelists, but we can all use God’s gifts to see that the sacred mysteries of God—the Gospel of Jesus Christ—is proclaimed.
Christians must continue to be instruments of God’s peace and love and to participate in proclaiming the Gospel. That means we must first and foremost consider a bigger kingdom and the proclamation of the Gospel.
Whenever I have an opportunity to speak, or even on my radio program, I try to make the point that one of my goals is to motivate God’s people to give to God’s work and to grow Christ’s kingdom—not my kingdom or ministry, but to give to the ministries directly or indirectly proclaiming the Gospel, that we might know the importance of giving to this work.
If we make sound decisions about our finances and investing, and in turn, begin to have greater comfort and ability to give to the Lord’s work, only then will we truly understand why Jesus called us to build His kingdom, not our own barns.
Dan Celia is president and CEO of Financial Issues Stewardship Ministries, Inc., and host of the nationally syndicated radio and television program “Financial Issues,” heard daily on more than 650 stations across the country and reaching millions of households on several TV networks. Visit www.financialissues.org.