Today, when a rich person dies, she might leave all that wealth to sons and daughters, or just as likely, the family dog. We have all heard of wills that seem outlandish.
But in ancient times, the wealth went to the sons, generally two-thirds for the eldest son and one-third for the other sons, to be divided equally. It was rare in Jesus’ day to give it all to the eldest son. It became common in later days in Europe.
Notice that none of the sons had to do anything to qualify themselves to receive the inheritance. This lack of qualification is the background for understanding our status as heirs of God.
I think we need to go back to the end of chapter 3 with verse 23 of Galatians and read the setup for today’s passage. Paul is explaining the power of the Messiah to take us from children to adults in our relationship with God.
Before the coming of faith we were all imprisoned under the power of the Law, with our only hope of deliverance the faith that was to be shown to us. Or, to change the metaphor, the Law was like a strict governess in charge of us until we went to the school of Christ and learned to be justified by faith in him. Once we had that faith we were completely free from the governess’s authority. For now that you have faith in Christ you are all sons of God. All of you who were baptised “into” Christ have put on the family likeness of Christ. Gone is the distinction between Jew and Greek, slave and free man, male and female—you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, you are true descendants of Abraham, you are true heirs of his promise.
But you must realise that so long as an heir is a child, though he is destined to be master of everything, he is, in practice, no different from a servant. He has to obey a guardian or trustee until the time which his father has chosen for him to receive his inheritance. So is it with us: while we were “children” we lived under the authority of basic moral principles. But when the proper time came God sent his son, born of a human mother and born under the jurisdiction of the Law, that he might redeem those who were under the authority of the Law and lead us into becoming, by adoption, true sons of God. It is because you really are his sons that God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts to cry “Father, dear Father”. You, my brother, are not a servant any longer; you are a son. And, if you are a son, then you are certainly an heir of God through Christ. Phillips
That is what the shepherds witnessed to. We no longer need fear that we are not good enough. God loves us no matter what we do or fail to do. We are His sons and daughters. We stand before him as equals in every way.
The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. KJV
Be righteous and do good.