This headline grabbed my attention: After death, who inherits credit card debt? Good question. The answer was not as clear. Sometimes no one inherits the debt and the credit card company has to write it off. Sometimes the estate of the deceased person has to pay the debt before the inheritance can be distributed. Sometimes you inherit the debt and it now becomes your responsibility to pay it. It all depends on who signed for the card and how the agreement was structured. The immediate lesson for all of us is to be careful what we sign and how we allow our name to be used.
But there are other lessons here. Besides the question of debt there are two important issues that we need to consider. The first is: All of us will leave something behind us when we die. You may not be planning on leaving anything behind but it is certain you will leave something to your heirs. You will leave behind your testimony. You will leave behind your reputation. You will leave behind your influence. You will leave behind the memories that other people have of you. People are going to inherit things from you whether you leave them money or not.
That leads to the second issue: What you leave behind is important. You may not think that you have anything of value to leave your heirs but the reality is all of us will leave something of importance. I’m not talking about the money – in the eternal scheme your money may be nice but it isn’t important because it’s not going to last (see Matthew 6:19-21, 2 Peter 3:10). But what you do leave will make an impact on people long after the money is gone. They will remember whether or not you had a testimony of God’s faithfulness in your life. They will remember if your reputation was a godly reputation or one that they would just as soon forget. They will remember the influence you had on other people and whether or not it was a godly influence. They are going to remember the memories that they have of you and whether the life you led brought them to Christ-likeness or to be like the world.
The Bible uses an interesting phrase to illustrate the affect we will have on people long after our death. It’s the phrase to the third and fourth generation (Exodus 20:5, Deuteronomy 5:9). The larger context says, I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me. God was not threatening to punish the children and the grandchildren for the sin of the father (Deuteronomy 24:16), He was simply stating the obvious, IE our actions affect those closest to us – and that affect for either good or bad continues long after we are gone.
Never think that who you are as a person isn’t important. It is, and even if isn’t important to you it will be important to those who follow you. You are going to have an influence on the lives of people yet to be born, people you will never know. Make sure that you leave them something of value.
So the question is: What will you leave behind? Who will inherit your debt?
Stay in the Word