Have you ever wondered what causes a family to squabble and argue?  Why the conflict?  Why do siblings have to fight?  I have a theory ... ok it's more than a theory ... it's an opinion that I think is based on truth.  I won't be so bold as to say its the gospel truth because I am still learning ... but I think it's close.

The biggest family feuds I know of are related to inheritance.  A parent dies and then the kids bicker over who should get what.  Why?  They are squabbling over what they have done and why they should get the greatest part of the inheritance.  They have rights, they have worked, they should get a reward ... thinking like a servant.  A servant is one who gets paid for what he has done.  A servant looks at the work of his hands and says 'now give me what I deserve'.  A servant aims to get what they think they deserve or they'll die trying.  It is simply impossible not to have an argument or conflict with this mindset.  The worst arguments are those between the servant and the son, because the servant cannot have, what the son is given.

The best and easiest way to deal with this conflict is to throw the servant mindset out of the house.  A servant is one who thinks it's all about him and the works of his hands.  When it's all about you, then it's all about pride and Proverbs 13:7 say that 'only by pride comes contention'.  Pride invokes conflict, it's a system of this world and you cannot change it.  If we bring up our children thinking that they can earn or buy an inheritance from us (hey, that could be your love) we create a war against ourselves.  On the one hand we offer them an inheritance, with the other, a reward system.  Internal conflict follows, that leads to external conflict, which leads to siblings still fighting for an inheritance over a parent's death bed.

I saw this for the first time in the story of Abraham.  Now if you've been around christians you'll know that what you don't want to do is 'give birth to an Ishmael'.  And that is usually explained as 'wait for God's timing' or 'don't take matters into you own hands'.  Ok so that is important, but it's not the real issue.  Hagar (Ishmael's mother) was Abraham and Sarah's servant.  Ishmael was born of a servant.  Ishmael could never have the inheritance.  When we give in to conceiving something with a servant we create an Ishmael.  When we require a servant or serving as part of our condition to give our children what they (or we) want, we create an Ishmael.  An inheritance cannot be bought.  You cannot get your share in the inheritance on what you do; you can only get it on what the parents have done.  It's worth thinking about this.  What are you offering your children - a reward or an inheritance?  What do you think you would want as a child?  Which is better?

Jesus came to give us an inheritance.  He came to restore relationships and families.  He does this through revealing the Father, who then gives birth to sons.  As parents we desperately need to see how God is fathering and parenting us.  It's out of this revelation and transformation that we'll be able to pass this onto our children, that they too can share in the inheritance, and not have to try and earn it through obedience.  It's not possible to fight and argue over something that is being given to you when what you're being given is based on the decision of the giver.  It's his choice and it's based on something he has already done for you.  That is great news if you're the one receiving the gift.  It's terrible news if you're not.  God demonstrated His love towards us by giving.  As parents we need to keep giving until our kids realise that they can have because we are giving not because they are earning it. 

My mom is helping me edit (she picked up the typos in the first 2 blogs, as only mom's can, and find herself a new job) and her responding question was great.  'If you didn't want to know us and we chose to give Tracy (my sister) the inheritance, would it be because you didn't deserve it or our choice of giving?'.  I think that we need to distinguish boundaries and the difference between receiving and deserving.  We never deserve an inheritance.  An inheritance is given by the choice of the parent.  If I choose not to have anything to do with my parents, well then I don't receive the inheritance, but that doesn't mean it was not given.  If as a parent we are deciding to give an inheritance on the basis of 'deserving', it ceases to be an inheritance and becomes a reward.  We need to deal with both things here.  Firstly, that as parents we see how God has given to us on the basis of inheritance.  We don't model that but we let that truth sink deep into our souls until we believe it.  When we see that He is a good Father, we receive the inheritance rather than trying to earn it.  If we don't 'get it' or 'see it' in terms of our relationship with God as Father, I don't see how we can relate to our kids this way.  Even if we see it, trying to live it or mdoel it, rather than letting it live on the inside of us, is a failing conformity and not a life giving transformation!

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