Guidelines for Christian Estate Planning Part VI: the Believer and Secular Charities
The following opinion piece finds it’s basis in the principles discussed in this series. The author intends the reader to view it as nothing other than an opinion.
The question of whether followers of Jesus Christ ought to leave any assets to a secular charity after their death perplexes many, particularly in light of the great need among organizations seeking to proclaim the Gospel.
A true believer in Jesus Christ desires to know and do the will of God. The plain teaching of Scripture demonstrates that God’s concern lies with people (see previous article), and specifically with their salvation. Peter clearly explains in 2 Peter 3:9 that the Lord “is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Therefore, Christians adopt the salvation of men and women as one of their greatest concerns also.
To that end, it seems logical that God desires each believer to in someway participate in the spreading of the Gospel. For some, that results in active involvement in front-line ministries- missionary, church worker, evangelist, pastor, etc. For others, it means a secondary, supportive role- physically, prayerfully, financially. We have only this life in which to provide support for God’s work… this life and what we leave behind.
Most likely, at the time of our death and the distribution of our estate, we will have the means, like no other time in life, to support God’s work financially through a gift of significant size. It seems logical that our first priority, after the needs of our family (see previous article), would be the support of God’s work. I believe every Christian should at least consider a bequest to some form of Christian work. Consider. Whether God actually directs you to do so is another issue.
Yet countless worthy charities and organizations around us desperately need assistance, and we would not describe them as faith-based. Often these have a special interest to various believers- relief of pain and suffering; concerns for the homeless, the hungry and the abused; medical research and development; cultural advancement like museums or symphonies; educational institutions; and so forth-all of which strive for the betterment of society. Yes, and giving to them may possibly make the spread of the Gospel more effective.
I believe than an individual blessed with financial ability, and who first provided for his/her dependents and in some manner provided for the work of the Lord on earth, could support worthy organizations outside the faith-based community. In this case, wisdom should drive such an individual to also remember the words of Jesus in Luke 12:34, “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Look at it from this perspective, “where you leave your treasure demonstrates where your concern lies.” When you stand before the Lord and He asks how you used the material possessions He entrusted to you (your stewardship), will you satisfy Him with your answer? Quite possibly you could.
Other articles in this seven-part series, Guidelines for Christian Estate Planning:
Click here for Part I: The Biblical Basis for Estate Planning.
Click here for Part II: Biblical Guidelines for Estate Distribution (Article part 1).
Click here for Part III: Biblical Guidelines for Estate Distribution (Article part 2).
Click here for Part IV: Biblical Basis for Charitable Giving.
Click here for Part V: Guidelines for Selecting Charities.
Click here for Part VII: The Believer and the Ethical Will.
The Holy Bible, Passage Lookup – New International Version – BibleGateway.com