The Importance of Heritage

Psalm 16:5-6 O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance.

Psalm 119:111 Your testimonies I have taken as a heritage forever, For they are the rejoicing of my heart.

For the past five decades, it has been my privilege to help believers understand God’s willingness to bless them. I have seen individuals and families who historically struggled with health issues come into wholeness. Many that had difficulty making ends meet financially have come into a measure of abundance that exceeded their former expectations and experiences. I have found that there are several essential things that believers must grasp to lock into the flow of God’s blessings. First, that it is the Lord’s will that they live healthy and prosperous lives. The measure of their prosperity is determined by the lifestyle preferences that the Holy Spirit has planted in the desires of their hearts. Secondly, the Word of God is resplendent with evidence that God’s blessings are not restricted to spiritual experiences.  More often than not, that which God calls blessings are related to tangible, material blessings that have the capability to enhance the quality of a family’s lifestyle (Prov. 10:22, Gen. 24:35). The third item that needs to be understood is the power of one’s heritage as an aid in apprehending God’s best for one’s life.  The Lord rewards godliness by causing there to be an increase in His favor as it passes from generation to generation. The Word deftly reveals the reality of what I term as the heritage factor. 

A person’s heritage is that which has been transmitted to him by former generations of his patriarchal and matriarchal family lines. It can include a host of both positive and negative qualities. Among the countless positive qualities are noble public service, bravery in military combat, success in business ventures, and an innate desire to know God. The negative aspects might entail such things as substance and spousal abuse, criminal behavior, vocational nomadism, and the rejection of all that is godly and decent. Every individual has the potential for a continuum of the positive and negative aspects of his heritage to be active in his life.

In this regard, Christians have a distinct advantage over those that have not put their faith in Christ.  Like all people, they can enjoy the positive benefits of their respective heritages without being consciously aware that it’s the heritage factor that spawns waves of favor into their existence.  Unlike the general population, they have resources that can nullify the negative influences of their lineage.  They can activate faith in the fact that they are new creations in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17).  By doing so they confirm that they are members of the Emmanuel race that have been translated out of the realm of darkness and into the Kingdom of God’s glorious light (1 Pet. 2:9). This identification negates problematic influences in a family’s lineage.  In addition, Psalms 119:111 (NKJV) implies that believers can follow the example of King David by adopting the testimonies of God’s grace in the lives of biblical characters as their personal heritage (Psa. 61:5). His commentary on the viability of this posture was that the Lord was his inheritance, that He watched over his portion in life, and had caused the lines of blessing to fall upon him in pleasant places (Psa. 16:5-6). These texts from Psalms imply that any of the redemptive events of which biblical personalities testify can be applied to our lives and claimed as our heritage. Their honorable attributes and the blessings of God that they received are potential additions to every Christian’s heritage.

The applications of this to inspire and assist faith for productive lives are almost limitless. Women redeemed from prostitution can proclaim that their heritage is that of Rahab.  She was the brothel owner of Jericho who was the great-grandmother of King David of Israel and in the lineage of the Lord Jesus Christ (Josh. 6:25, Matt. 1:5-6). Those whose ancestors squandered fortunes in unwise business ventures can adopt the heritage of the wisdom of King Solomon as their own (1 Kgs. 4:29, Matt. 12:42).  Others who have a heritage of undisciplined lifestyles can claim the diligence of Dorcas.  Her exemplary service to others earned her the privilege of being raised from the dead after she had died of an illness (Acts 9:36-42).  For every scoundrel in one’s lineage, there is a corresponding testimony of a biblical saint that can be adopted to nullify the hindering influences.

Biblically speaking, the concept of heritage covers far more than character qualities and talents.  God graciously promises that it is our heritage as faithful believers to live long, prosperous lives and to enjoy the fruits of our labors (Psa. 128:6, Eccles. 5:18-19).  It is our portion to bequeath to our children’s real estate holdings and meaningful sums of money (Prov. 13:22, 19:14).  Christians should never forget that the Lord enjoys watching His people prosper (Psa 35:27).  It is His Fatherly intention that we prosper in our finances and health to the same measure that we prosper in the spiritual aspects of our lives (3 Jn. 1:2).

God has placed a continuum dynamic in heritage. It helps maintain and even facilitates the increase of blessings from generation to generation.  I call this the heritage factor.  In a continuum, each generation is borne along by the progression of a blessed heritage extending into successive generations.  As each generation stays devoted to the Lord, the momentum of the continuum of blessings intensifies.  Even if a particular generation shows no interest in spiritual matters, the momentum of positive influences created by its ancestors’ faithfulness has the capacity to distinguish it as favored by the Lord.  This is demonstrated by God’s faithfulness to wicked King Jehoram.  The fact that he was a descendant of King David kept him from losing his throne (2 Chron. 21:6-7).  However, successive spiritually insensitive generations can eventually thwart the momentum of the heritage factor.  The good news is that repentance and faith can quickly reinstate the momentum of the continuum of blessings to its full force.

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Jim Croft