Almost every week at Sunday church, I receive the blessing of watching the little girl in this picture climb on top of the pew and wrap her arms around her mother and father. I look forward to that scene, and it always makes me smile. It demonstrates the interconnectivity of generations in a family.
As I have been reading my Bible this week, I have been struck by the influence one generation has on another. While in 2 Chronicles, I found story after story of kings who made good and bad choices, and how those choices impacted their family and their society. Our influence matters, and it impacts the generations to come.
What we do
The Lord gives us guidelines for living in His Word that are meant to bless us and those around us. He tells us His instructions are for our own good (Deuteronomy 10:13), so that it might go well for us (Jeremiah 7:23). When we choose to go another way, we step outside of a system established by God to bless and protect us and those we love . . . and we put everyone in harm’s way.
That’s why the Lord warned that the sins of the father affect the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation (Exodus 34:7). Sin gives birth to ugly consequences, something the Bible refers to as “death” (James 1:15). On the other hand, choosing to live God’s way ushers in abundant life, joy, and peace. The Lord’s lovingkindness displays itself in the blessings of an obedient life, and He keeps His lovingkindness for thousands of generations (Exodus 34:7).
In the Bible, the story of Amnon raping his sister Tamar has always horrified me. Yet I wondered recently if perhaps Amnon thought he could take his sister because his father King David took the wife of another man and slept with her. The prophet Nathan warned King David of the many consequences of his sin, all of which came to pass. Sin always has consequences.
So does obedience. Jesus was tempted in every way that we are; yet, He was without sin. His examples of godly living fill the gospels, and His choice to obey the Father resulted in blessings for all generations to come. He will help us when we are tempted (1 Corinthians 10:13). If we fall and repent, He will lovingly forgive us (1 John 1:9), but the consequences remain.
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:7-10, NIV).
What we say
Deuteronomy 6:6-7, NASB, stresses the importance of our words: “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”
These verses stress the importance of sharing with new generations what God has to say. The words paint a picture of applying God’s Word to everyday situations, sharing the Lord’s Word with younger ones as they face life’s trials and triumphs. God’s Word is a treasured inheritance we must pass along to the next generation. It contains specific instructions for specific situations, and it allows us to know the Lord in deeper, more intimate ways, so we can remember to rely on Him throughout life.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21, NASB). When we speak God’s Word to younger ones, we are offering them a more abundant life. When we utter worldly values and principles, we are holding out darkness and depravity.
We can tell the younger generations what the Lord has done in our lives: “I will sing of the lovingkindness of the Lord forever; to all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth” (Psalm 89:1, NASB).
Children also learn by watching us do what we say (or not). That’s why it also says in the Bible regarding God’s instructions, “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand [in what you do] and they shall be as frontals on your forehead [in how you think]. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house [how you conduct yourself in your home] and on your gates [how you conduct yourself at work] (Deuteronomy 6:8-9).
Whose we are
The next generation needs to know Whose we are. Our words and actions display that for all to see. When we cultivate our relationship with the Lord and speak and do according to what He tells us, then the younger ones around us learn Whom we serve. Our choices influence generations to come.
The Lord tells parents that they should teach their children His ways, “That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children, that they should put their confidence in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments” (Psalm 78:6-7, NASB).
I know the parents of that little girl in church. They love the Lord and want to honor Him with their lives. I am certain that just as their daughter chooses to embrace them each week in church, she also is being given the opportunity to embrace the God of her parents and His ways. That’s the beauty found in connecting the generations.
Question: How has the Lord used prior generations to connect you to Him? Comment at the link below.
Susan Jane King