By Morris D. Norman
“Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it for the man that will come after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is vanity. Therefore I completely despaired of all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored for them. This too is vanity and a great evil. “(Eccl. 2:1821, NASV).
The book of Ecclesiastes is a documentary on the vanities of life. The preacher affirms that it is right for a man to enjoy the fruit of his labors, but it is folly to put his trust in those riches. Man labors that he may furnish the needs of his life and for those that depend on him. If a man can supply the necessities of life he should learn to find happiness therein. We should be as Paul was who “learned in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content” (Phil. 4:11).
But in our day of good 0wages and retirement benefits, of homes with two wage earners and long life expectancy, it is not unusual for a man to accumulate a “nest egg” beyond necessities. With this, a Christian may be able to amass an estate of several thousands of dollars, including property, stocks, life insurance .and savings accounts. While he is able to determine what is to be done with such “wealth” while he is alive, a what will be done with it after he is dead? He is likely to keep some of it where he can use it while he is alive, but he needs to make arrangements that it will be disposed of in a righteous manner after he can no longer, use it or have need of it.
The above passage from Solomon suggests that it is vanity to labor and leave it for another to control, especially when we know not whether that one will be foolish or wise. What will happen to your estate? Will that for which you have labored be left to one who is not a Christian and has no interest in spiritual things? Then will that wealth be used for everything under the sun but the glory of God?
You are a Christian. You should be seeking first the kingdom of God and laying up treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:33, 20). Every possession you have is given you of God and should be used with His glory in view. All things should be used in some way that will contribute to the spread of truth and enhancement .of righteousness. Make a WILL! Leave your estate to those of “like precious faith,” and give instructions that the fruit of your labor be used in righteous ways. Do Not leave it to ungodly persons (whether relatives or not) who will not consider the kingdom of God in the use of it. There are too many things that need to be done for the cause of Christ to let even a small portion of what we have been blessed with be used for the “foolishness” of this world.
It would be better to dispose of your “surplus” before death so that a great portion of it would not go to the state or a lawyer for probating your will. Use it now to support the gospel (so many men are crying for support in destitute places), or to put tracts or printed material (magazines, etc.), into hands of people who will read with profit, or to educate our young people in a school operated ‘by our brethren. Put it in the hands of men in whom you have confidence to use it rightly, whether it be elders, preachers, a board, or others. So many good works are needing assistance.
Then make a will for the disposition of what you retain for an emergency or retirement. Be sure that it will be in the hands of those that you are sure will use it in harmony with God’s will. How could it be pleasing to God for your estate to be left in the hands of godless relatives who will only spend it to further the Devil’s cause?
Wouldn’t it be a great feeling to know that after you are no longer among the living that your “wealth” could contribute toward young people getting an education where godly influences can be felt because you made provision for Florida College in your will; or that some young man is able to go there to procure a college education, which would be of immeasurable help to him, if he should decide to preach the gospel, because you left your money in a fund for that purpose; or that a gospel preacher can be supported in a destitute field because you caused your will to read that way; or that a congregation would be able to extend its work because you put your estate in the hands of godly elders?
Heed the advice of the Lord that climaxed the parable of the unjust steward, “So I say unto you, use your worldly wealth to win friends for yourself, so that when money is a thing of the past you may be received into the eternal home.” (Luke 16:9, NASV). The lesson here taught is: use your earthly possessions to please God so that when you can no longer use them, you will be granted eternal wealth. And it might be added that we are responsible for -how we dispose of our estate after death. This is putting the kingdom first, laying up treasures in heaven. Paul said, “I know him whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2 Tim. 1:12).
Jesus also said, “If you have not proved trustworthy with the wealth of this world, who will trust you with the wealth that is real?” (Lk. 16:11, NEB). The point is that if we do not use rightly our earthly possessions, how can we expect God to give us heavenly wealth? Have you made your will??
Truth Magazine XVIII: 5, p. 66
December 5, 1974