Our Obligations to Future Generations
Socrates is credited as leaving the following thought for his people:
“Could I climb to the highest hill in Athens, I would lift my voice and proclaim, ‘Fellow citizens, why do you turn and scrape every stone in an attempt to gather wealth, and yet take so little care of your children, to whom someday you must relinquish it all?’”
What do you remember about your parents? Your grandparents? What are you learning from them? Have you thought about the legacy you will leave behind for generations to come? Please consider the following thoughts from one who has been thinking on this question for some time.
AS PARENTS WE OWE OUR CHILDREN:
- A home full of love and discipline. Children who know they are loved can have a positive attitude about themselves and others. Nothing is more powerful in their early years than knowing “Dad loves Mom” and “Mom loves Dad.” Stability in early years leads to discipline in years that follow. Discipline will be learned early or not learned at all.
- The dignity of work and integrity. Many parents in the past had little education, but they instilled in their children the importance of working hard and being true to their word. We all need that lesson.
- The opportunity to succeed or fail. Encouragement given children in youth shows up as self-confidence in later years. Youth must face the consequences of failure before they can enjoy all the benefits of success.
- The Joy of serving others. Jesus made it clear that He came to serve others. He said:
“..whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:43-45
Being a servant of and for Christ is a privilege, and our children need and deserve the opportunity to learn and exercise that privilege.
AS CHRISTIANS WE OWE OTHERS:
- Examples of generosity, energy, interest and honesty. We all know that our children, neighbors and friends see us as we are, not as we say we are. Sermons preached from pulpits may fade away, but sermons we “preach” as we face trials, deal with temptations and struggle with illness – they last for years.
- A love of Bible study and teaching. Your love for study and learning will not be forgotten. You don’t need a college degree to leave this legacy.
- The real joy of being a Christian. The “fruit of the Spirit” includes several attitudes, not the least of which is “joy.” We do friends no favor when a “sour” countenance is what they see in us. If we have no joy, we have not Christ.
- A well-arranged set of priorities. More than anyone, Christians must have their priorities in order. And, Christians must know Who and what should be highest on that list. Jesus settled the matter:
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you,” Matthew 6:33.
Our work, our family, our hobbies; they all have their place in our lives, but first place must be given to Christ and our service to Him. As Christians, we are obligated to teach and show that principle to our children, friends and brethren.
AS CHRIST’S CHURCH WE MUST:
- Respect God’s Truth. For many today, the only “truth” is what they happen to believe is truth. Our culture has fancy names for this viewpoint, but actions or thoughts that contradict God’s Truth are false, John 17:17. Future generations must be taught by word and by examples to honor and obey God’s word.
- Respect Priorities God Established. Just like individuals, the church also has been given priorities. Most of us understand Jesus’ purpose was to “seek and save that which was lost,” Luke 19:10. Nothing should get in the way of accomplishing that goal – not fun, not people, not programs or buildings. When we give other things a higher priority than saving the lost, future generations will suffer and we will be held accountable. Early Christians knew how important it was to fulfill the “ministry of the word,” Acts 6:4, giving it the highest priority, yet without ignoring the poor.
- Maintain the purity of Christ’s Bride. When the Corinthians ignored the sin of adultery within, 1 Corinthians 5, they were reminded that the church is the bride of Christ, and that her reputation must be guarded. Today, the Bible demands that those who depart from their duties as Christians must be warned and disciplined if they continue in rebellion to Him, Hebrews 6:4-5, 2 Peter 2:20-22,
1 Corinthians 9:27-10:13, Romans 11:22. If we fail to do so, we will be held accountable, and those who have drifted away will be eternally separated from God, Romans 6:23.
What we are individually and collectively will leave memories to those who knew us. What epitaph will God write about you, about this church – and about me?