I’ve mentioned them before, but there’s a hilarious Honeymooners episode from that old show in which Ralph (Jackie Gleason) will be gaining an inheritance.
An elderly woman who used to ride the bus he drove died, and because he has been so friendly to her, he was advised to come to the reading of the will for an inheritance.
Learning that the woman was rich, Norton gets a suitcase to carry all the money he thinks that Ralph will inherit.
Turns out, Ralph and Norton get almost hysterical when they hear that Ralph has inherited her “Fortune”….which turns out to be the name of her pet parakeet.
You know,…we can inherit all kinds of things.
As human beings, we have inherited the earth and all the gifts and beauty of nature.
Individually we inherit physical characteristics as well as personality traits from our parents and other relatives.
Some of these are good and we like them,…and some we’d rather not received.
We also can inherit bad things from them such as predisposition to ailments or disease.
We can inherit our parent’s politics or even religion,…both of which we can disinherit.
But the best thing we’d like to inherit are things of value.
They could be of objective value, like money or land or a business, etc.
But also things that are meaningful and have emotional importance to us.
The big question when you inherit something of value is….”What am I going to do with this inheritance?”
One thing you can do is reject the inheritance.
We can’t reject the color eyes or the physical attributes that we inherit from parents, but we can reject their politics or religion or their attitudes about certain things.
The second thing we can do is keep an inheritance but,…sort of, take it for granted.
Squander the money, run the business into the ground, pawn Grandmom’s wedding ring
Then we just exploit or take advantage of what fell in our laps to get some gain out of it.
But its not really showing our appreciation or being good stewards of what’s given to us.
The last, and best thing, we can do with an inheritance is to value it by giving thanks for it and putting it to good use.
Wether the environment we inherit or property or money or anything else,… we can show our thankfulness for it by putting that inheritance to good use.
Right now I am wearing my grandfather’s 100 yr. old Hamilton watch that I inherited and since then have had refurbished.
Even though I rarely wear a watch, I feel that putting it to use reflects my appreciation.
The reading from 1st Peter says that, as believers in Jesus Christ, we’ve been given “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you”.
What he is talking about, of course, is that we have been given a ‘fortune’ by God.
The fortune is that, through our faith in Jesus, we are granted the gift of heaven.
And we are assured of God’s love and care and forgiveness up until that point.
When he mentions the words, “imperishable, undefiled and unfading”, I got to thinking.
I’m a great tupperware guy and like to save leftovers all the time.
Problem is, after a while they can start to fade, get defiled and become perishable.
Nothing in life lasts forever either and nothing is guaranteed… except taxes and death.
But this inheritance is being kept for us and can’t grow stale, wither away or go rotten.
And so, since life is not forever,….we have this place to go reserved for us somewhere.
While we’d have to pay inheritance taxes on things of financial value that we have gain, there are no taxes or fees or cost of any kind for this heavenly inheritance.
Jesus, paid the cost already, so to speak, by his death on the cross.
It’s a gift that has been freely given to us, without having to earn it.
So the question then becomes,….what do we do with this ‘fortune’ we’ve inherited?
Do we reject it and turn it away? I would think in most cases this rarely happens.
Why would someone turn their nose up at such a thing (although some, in fact, do)?
The second option is maybe the more common - we don’t appreciate it enough.
Oh, we don’t abuse or squander the inheritance,…but maybe take it for granted a little.
And while that doesn’t show appreciation, the inheritance still will not go bad on us.
Then there is the third option; of being grateful and putting the inheritance to good use.
But how do we do that?
We can’t share our part of heaven and God’s love with others;…..or can we?
Well, we can in fact share what the idea of the ‘fortune’ that heaven is and represents.
A place in heaven represents God’s love, forgiveness, and mercy and saving grace.
It represents care and compassion and communion with God, in both life and death.
If those are things that we have inherited from God through Jesus,…..then wouldn’t putting our inheritance to good use mean sharing the same things with others?
Sharing love, forgiveness, mercy and grace in life.
Putting to use compassion for and communion with others in life and death.
Being like Christ was and is for us, is how we can put our inheritance to good use.
When Jesus tells doubting Thomas to believe,…that’s what he means.
To believe is not just a mental acquiesce to an idea or fact we take as real.
To believe is to accept something and to live as though you have embraced it.
Since our good fortune was given to us freely, we can also freely share it with others.