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FIRST-PERSON: Teaching the next generation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–My father always told me, “The debt we owe to the past is to leave the future indebted to us.”

As Christians, we are required and allowed the wonderful privilege of passing on to our children God’s mighty works of the past. As the next generation gains this reservoir of knowledge and faith, they grow closer to God and are less likely to become rebellious and turn away from him.

Psalm 78:4 speaks of this imperative: “We must not hide [God’s marvelous works from our] children, but must tell a future generation the praises of the Lord, His might, and the wonderful works He has performed.”

If we fail to pass our faith and beliefs to succeeding generations, the void created by our inaction will be filled by the world. Our culture will mold and fashion their developing hearts and minds.

This pattern of one generation teaching the next is presented in many places in God’s Word. For example, Isaiah 54:13 states, “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.”

The rationale for faithfully passing God’s truth to the next generation is found in Psalm 78:8: “Then they would not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not loyal and whose spirit was not faithful to God.” The result of one generation teaching the next is that our children should go further with God than we have. As they are grounded in the Word of God, they will be more obedient than we have been.

The psalmist uses Ephraim as a sad example. Because he did not pass on to his children the mighty works of God, they “turned back on the day of battle” (Psalm 78:9). Defeat and disgrace came upon this tribe because it no longer had a dynamic, historical faith in the living God. Failure to pass on vital spiritual truth resulted in the disintegration of national character.

This same principle is at work in the United States today. Because we have not carried out our God-given responsibility to pass on our faith, we are raising children who are ignorant of the truths of God’s Word and intolerant of their rich spiritual heritage.

When we do not pass on the historical basis of our faith in God and the truths of his Word, we only have to look to Psalm 78 to see that there will be a decay of national character leading to the refusal of following generations to face the enemies of God.

Spend a few minutes today reflecting on what you most want your children to know about God and his working in your life. How have you communicated these mighty works of God? If you haven’t, how could you, even now, share with your children? Ask the Lord to lead you. Don’t delay.
Draper is president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

    About the Author

  • James T. Draper Jr.