The Next Generation

   On our kitchen wall hangs a painted slate with the following words imprinted: “Grandchildren are the crown of old men.” It was given to me by our granddaughter a few years ago for “Father’s Day.” I adore it! It is an interpreted version from Proverbs 17:6 which reads, “Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their father’s.” The second part of that verse shows this glory should proceed from one generation to the next; and for many generations that is the case. Sadly, it is not the case in all families.

   I remember the birth of each of our three grandchildren and when I first held their tiny bodies. As I held them, I started walking away from the parents as if to go out the door, into the hall, and head homeward. “Where do you think you’re going?” they rightly questioned. And with some sense of emphatic paternal authority, I replied, “Home. I’ve got experience now and will raise this one right!” Undoubtedly, I’m not the only grandparent who has uttered such words; perhaps in subtle admission of admitted failures now known as experience. While we endeavored with fervor to comply with Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21, we admit numerous mistakes through the journey called “parenting.” In fact, we’ve learned the job of parenting doesn’t stop regardless of the age of the child, or the number of grandchildren adding stars to our crown of old age!

   As parents, we rejoice when we see our efforts pf teaching our children God’s Word resulting in their obedience to the gospel. Some of us have had the joy of immersing our children into Christ. In doing so, we swell with a degree of satisfaction, knowing we have done our job in teaching them the gospel, for they have obeyed it of their own accord. It is here we realize such teaching was not futile but is the answer of their good conscience toward God (1 Peter 3:21). While parenting them through skinned knees and elbows, perhaps a few broken bones and maybe even help mend a broken heart or two, parents realize all we can do is teach our children the gospel: it is up to them to obey it for we cannot do this for them!

   We grandparents thrill for nearly every accomplishment made by our grandchildren. Vicariously, we relive the lives of our children through them. Sometimes we are reminded of our childhood antics that may or may not have been so “wise.” As parents and grandparents, many of us “learned the hard way” there are some stories of our past best left untold! Still, being the oldest in this line of heritage, we congratulate the good, warn against the bad and wrong, and continue teaching both children and grandchildren what God has directed. Sadly, by this time some of our children exercise their own adulthood and refuse the words of wisdom they once obeyed, and in turn, while we endeavor to teach our grandchildren, they sometimes reply, “But Daddy and Mommy say …” And of course, there comes the time when the grandchild becomes a “grand-adult” and even less influenced by our spiritual endeavors. What a blessing it is for those families who live to see several generations of faithful obedience to God and His Word!

   While it is right for us to be concerned for the next generation, and worthy of our most vigorous efforts of teaching them the value of seeking the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16) and refusing to remove the ancient landmark of truth (Proverbs 22:28), we must remain keenly aware of our personal responsibility: namely, that of saving our own souls! Sometimes we grandparents get so caught up in praising our subsequent generation’s success, we neglect to care for our own salvation. In fact, some compromise their salvation by agreeing with the practices of their children and grandchildren, even when they know such practices are in error of God’s Word, just to “keep peace in the family.” Such compromise never helps subsequent generations learn the truth: it simply teaches them the older generation isn’t as committed to God’s Word as they’d like their children and grandchildren to think! No one can compromise God’s Word and remain strong in Him and in the power of His might (Ephesians 6:10).

   In theory, the next generation should be stronger, wiser, and more energetic in the service of our Lord. They have the knowledge we parents shared with them plus their own acquired knowledge from the study of His Word. Further, theoretically, they’ve learned from our mistakes as well as their own, and should be better prepared to face challenges greater than what we faced. But this is only theory. In reality, their faith must increase just like ours: Romans 10:17 must become a daily practice for all! They must teach their young just as we endeavored to teach our young. The only thing unchangeable from generation to generation is the subject matter of our teaching: God’s Word! (Matthew 24:35).

   Yes, the very fact these grandchildren exist is a crown for an old man! But what a much shinier crown it is when we witness obedience to God from our children and grandchildren: and an even greater crown when we commit ourselves to being faithful unto death. (Revelation 2:10).