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Published Date: July 27, 2011

Published Date: July 27, 2011

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What is Your Inheritance?

Last year when I offered to coach my class of Indian Christian women in preaching, they protested. They said, “Our mothers and pastors taught us Eve brought sin into the world and women aren’t much good anyway. Should we learn to preach?” They went on, “Mothers tell us, ‘Don’t laugh! You’re a girl. Don’t talk or laugh when you get married and go to your mother-in-law’s house. You would shame our family’.”

My heart stood still. What a stifling inheritance these mothers gave their daughters! In their advice to their daughters, these mothers were indirectly saying, “Your opinions and feelings are without value. You are nobody, and make sure you keep it that way.”

Many families in India where I teach also believe economic inheritance must go to males, and females often support this. Daughters, who will marry and go to another family, cannot inherit. Wives can rarely inherit, for they may not be seen as full family members, but as individuals mainly brought in to give birth to sons. This was also the belief in Old Testament times.

In the New Testament

Jesus cut across all these cultural traditions, spiritually and generationally. In the parable of the sheep and the goats, he welcomed men and women, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you” (Matt. 25:34-35, TNIV). Scholars tell us since we are between the times, between the already and the not yet, God’s kingdom is both present and future, and in this kingdom, women inherit.

Paul taught similarly. He told a whole congregation, “[God] has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his people” (Col. 1:12). This offers men and women “the riches of his gloriousinheritance” (Eph. 1:18), because we are family, “Since you are his children, he has made you also heirs” (Gal. 4:7). Even better, God gives us status with Christ: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17). Hence, we may, “[e]agerly desire spiritual gifts” (1 Cor. 14:1) and ask Christ for what we need. Peter agreed. He wrote, “Husbands…be considerate as you live with your wives…heirs with you of the gracious gift of life” (1 Pet. 3:7).

Lessons for Today

These passages of Scripture teach two things. First, for those living in traditional and even some modern cultures, if daughters and sons through Christ inherit in the same way, then surely daughters and wives are competent to inherit family property from their human parents or husbands. Second, for all of us, God gives spiritual gifts equally to sons and daughters.

Will you accept and develop the gifts God wants to give you? Will you contest the false teaching that women and girls cannot be heirs of God? God wants you, his heir, to claim your inheritance. If you fear taking this inheritance, know that the honor is already given to you. You are the heir of the King and inherit his ministry gifts to use in his kingdom.

Three women smiling at the camera, each is holding a present.

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