What Does Set Your House in Order mean?

The Set Your House In Order Bible Study is all about helping you be prepared for the inevitable. Two things in life are certain—taxes and death.  We know when taxes are due but we never know when death will occur.  And if that happens, or if you are incapacitated in some way, your family will need to know where your important information is located. Where is your will? Who is your doctor, lawyer, accountant, banker? Where is your insurance information?

They’ll need all this information and a lot more! The five week Set Your House In Order Bible study will guide you through gathering and updating this data.

The verse that sums up the first week is from Isaiah 38:1. “In those days, when Hezekiah was mortally ill, the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, came and said to him: ‘Thus says the LORD: Put your house in order, for you are about to die; you shall not recover.’”

During the first week, you will concentrate on gathering and organizing all your important documents in one place. These are items such as: birth certificates, sacramental records, military discharges, trusts, power of attorney, etc.

There are three ways to keep important info. Paper copies need to be in a secure, fireproof and burglar proof location. Electronic copies on your computer should be password protected and backed up. The third option is online file storage, which is offered by many banks and financial service companies.

During the second week of the study, we discuss God’s Ownership and our responsibility to be a good steward of what God has given to us. It’s easy to believe intellectually that God owns all we have, yet still live as if this were not true. Yet Psalm 24:1 is very clear: “The earth is the LORD’s and all it holds, the world and those who dwell in it.”

Think about it. Everyone around us—our neighbors, the media, even the law—say that we own our possessions. But the Bible reveals the truth—God is the owner and we are stewards of his blessings.

One of the practical applications we use to drive home the difference between God’s role as owner and our role as stewards is a symbolic “Deed” acknowledging God’s ownership.

During this week, you gather information about your investments and assets in preparation for doing a financial statement in Week 3.

Discussion in week 2 includes seeking godly counsel when making financial decisions. When we think of people who are skilled in financial decision-making, we often think of experts or those who are older and more experienced. Yet the Bible offers us more insight and wisdom than financial experts who don’t know God’s way of handling money. The truths of the Bible are timeless. It is truly a living book that communicates God’s direction to all generations.

Week 3 can be summed up in Proverbs 24:3-4: “By wisdom a house is built, by understanding it is established; And by knowledge, its rooms are filled with every precious and pleasing possession.”

The practical applications for this week include completing Financial Statement, subtracting your debts from your assets, so you have a picture of your financial net worth—is it positive or negative?

The other practical tool is to complete List of Advisors. These are contacts the person who is handling your affairs would need to know, such as your: attorney, accountant, insurance agent, and any friends you would recommend as a wise source of godly counsel.

One thing your family would need to know is your passwords. These days we use passwords to guard accessibility to everything from our email and social media accounts to our bank accounts.

The verse for the fourth week is from 1 Timothy 5:8: “And whoever does not provide for relatives and especially family members has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” So, this is the week we concentrate on what happens financially after the death of a loved one.

There are three practical tools that work together. A current spending plan allows you to know how much you spend on a monthly basis NOW in order to anticipate any adjustments that will be made after someone dies.

An insurance calculation helps you determine how much life insurance you need to support the survivors. If the breadwinner’s income is no longer available how do they survive financially? What is available from insurance, social security, company benefits, etc.?

We also have you do an insurance inventory to get a complete picture of all available insurance: life, homeowners, umbrella, auto, health, disability, and long term care. The insurance inventory includes policies purchased individually as well as group policies such as work related insurance.

One of the most important topics in this week is Health Care decisions: a living will; HIPPA waiver; health care power of attorney and organ donation. Our secular society focuses on money and possessions but as stewards, we should be equally vigilant in making sure that our health care and end-of-life directives follow Catholic teaching, and not those of a society that is looking for easy and quick fix solutions, such as euthanasia.

Everyone who is alive has inherent dignity, deserving basic care, even if there is no hope of recovery. Nutrition and hydration, must be provided, even via artificial assistance, along with other basic necessities such as the provision of warmth, cleanliness and pain management.

To apply this reasoning correctly we must recognize that all human life, not only a particular kind of life we might consider “normal” or “productive,” is precious and should be preserved.

In this respect, as Pope John Paul II pointed out, the term “vegetative state” is unfortunate and potentially misleading—a human being must never be dismissed as having the status of a “vegetable.”

The fifth week is the last one and we encourage you to leave a legacy by communicating your life story to future generations. You can write a letter, compose a picture album, or shoot a video sharing your family history and the milestones in your life. Most importantly we encourage you to share your relationship with Christ. Why is your faith important to you and how do you want to pass it on to future generations?

We ask people to plan their funeral. This may be a morbid thought for some, but if there are favorite readings or songs you want at your funeral or if you want someone who is very special to you to sing at your funeral Mass, then it’s a good idea to write down what you want so those left behind know what your wishes were.

Let’s remind ourselves of three realities: We all will die (2 Kings 20:1). When we die will take nothing with us (Job 1:21). Someone else will get our stuff (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19).

One of the best ways to demonstrate your love for your family and friends is to get your affairs in order and encourage others to do the same.  

Setting your house in order is the best gift you can give to your family.

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