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A Different Lens

By Staff, May 11, 2017

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” 
—Psalm 24:1

John Bronson* was 49 years old when he felt God tugging at his heart. By worldly standards, he had been enormously successful. His commercial real estate business had grown and thrived over the years. He had wealth, security, and the esteem of his peers that comes along with it. He had always been a church-going man; he had even served in the offices of the church. But despite it all, he didn’t really feel the peace that he saw in other followers of Jesus.

“I was always more concerned with what was going on with my 90 percent than my tithe of 10 percent,” said John. “Then God opened my spiritual eyes and I became transformed. After that kind of transformation, your perspective changes. You start to look at all of all of it [as God’s]. Now we just want to give back to the Lord what He’s entrusted to us. It’s not ours, it’s His.”

“We are stewards of everything that we have been given,” he added. “We have found a lot of joy in giving it away. … We’re trying to give it all away before we die. We’d like to die broke!”

John has been talking with Mission to the World’s Estate and Gift Planning staff for just over a year. Together, they are taking real estate, the material fruits of a life of labor, and turning it into resources for the building of the kingdom of God.

Because John was in the commercial real estate business, a significant amount of his assets are property—primarily buildings and land. The Bronsons decided to create a charitable trust. As a result, their estate is not subject to any estate tax, and gifts are able to pour out of the trust, tax-free, to charities like Mission to the World, or the several Christian schools which John and his wife have been instrumental in starting. With this kind of proper planning, the Bronsons are free from the burden of estate tax, and the charities they so cherish are able to receive more.

Keeping an eternal perspective
“Scripture says that everything we do is going to be burned up,” John said. “Why would you want to work for something that’s only going to be temporary, when in fact it’s the eternal perspective that we need to be thinking about?”

“The Lord promises us that we will have all the fruits of the Spirit,” John continued, “but you can’t have them if you’re concentrating on your own wealth. You know, you don’t have joy or peace because there’s always another deal to make. There’s always another building to build. You’re never ever satisfied. But if you look at it from God’s perspective and it’s all His, you’re still going to work hard, but He’s in control. … Once you’re broken, then your emphasis is no longer on your circumstances or your money or possessions or fame or whatever. It’s all turned around. It’s like the blind man said: ‘I was blind and now I see.’ And I think that’s what happens to people when they recognize that life is short, it’s temporary, and they don’t have anything that wasn’t given to them.”

Not many can handle the burden of wealth. Wealth and security are seductive and false gods, as is the notion that the wealthy and successful of the world have built themselves and their empires from thin air. It is so easy to forget who we are, our place in the universe, and the sovereign God from whom all blessings flow, our Creator and Redeemer who is, in and of Himself, more than enough for each of us.

John Bronson is a man transformed by grace. And it is grace that has given him that divine insight—that at root, everything belongs to God. That our possessions, our very lives, are not our own, and we are to act accordingly with faithfulness in a spirit of humility and joyful sonship, giving of ourselves and our possessions to further the kingdom of God.

*Name changed to protect privacy.

MTW has resources available for donors interested in long-term planning. Visit MTW’s Center for Estate and Gift Planning to learn more.

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