And Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20
Did you ever consider how many things are wrapped up in these three verses? Education, languages, world travel, and social interaction, to name a few, all bound together in the Trinity itself connecting with human beings.
By His authority, Christ gave His disciples then and now enormous responsibility as well as never-ending adventure. He expressed His will for our lives in those two pregnant sentences, and if we choose to let them, they will bear fruit in us.
As God's messenger says, "Each one is to be an executor of the Saviour's will. Each one has been given sacred truth to give to the earnest seeker. Every believer is to be a laborer together with God." 1
What an exciting privilege!
Being an executor, however, carries a great deal of accountability. The executor of a person's estate has a fiduciary responsibility to dispose of the assets as directed. It is the executor's privilege to act in behalf of the one who is gone.
The Bible says that everything belongs to God—that's a gigantic estate! God knew that no one of us could handle the entire thing, and that's why we're all executors of small parts of it. Our responsibilities not only involve wise use of God's assets while we live, but also wise distribution of them through executors when we die.
Our lives as well as our estate plans speak volumes about our priorities even after we die. Our actions—including asset distribution—expose our hearts' desires.
God's messenger says, "The Lord designs that the death of His servants shall be regarded as a loss, because of the influence for good which they exerted and the many willing offerings which they bestowed to replenish the treasuries of God...The servants of God should be making their wills every day, in good works and liberal offerings to God... But many professed Christians put off the claims of Jesus in life, and insult Him by giving Him a mere pittance at death. Let all of this class remember that this robbery of God is not an impulsive action, but a well-considered plan which they preface by saying, ‘Being in sound mind.'"2
Remembering the church or other ministries in our wills does not mean that we have to forget children or other family and friends. Loving God trains us to love others more completely, in ways that benefit them the most. If they are in need, remember them while also remembering the One who brought all of us out of our great need and provides for us each day.
Wills are intricate, with their details of who gets what, how to provide for young children if parents die, and who closes the estate.
Pray about your estate plan. Then get information. If you're thinking about writing a will, you need to make sure it's written clearly and legally so that it would stand up in a court of law. States have laws to handle estates without wills, but they have no way of knowing, for example, who you'd trust to take care of your children and make no provision for any charitable giving.
The process can seem complicated. It's hard to know where to begin and which estate planning documents meet your needs. That's why the trust officers at your local conference office and the North Pacific Union Conference are available to help church members with all of these details. The trust departments exist to help you navigate the maze of selecting the best estate planning solutions. In addition, your Planned Giving and Trust Service Department provides access to and directions about when tax or legal consultation would be appropriate.
The church provides this service to all who have a charitable intent. The focus is on spreading the glad tidings of Jesus and taking care of your family's needs. Our prayer is that "the Lord [will] impress upon us all the importance of making the advancement of the last gospel message our very first business."3
1 Ellen G. White, Review & Herald, Jan. 7, 1902.
2 Ellen G. White, Counsels on Stewardship, 326–27.
3 Ellen G. White, "Making Wills," Gospel Herald, Dec. 1, 1901.