This week many families will gather together from near and far to celebrate Thanksgiving. Not only do I love coming together with family to give thanks for all we have been given, but I also relish witnessing several generations interacting together, teaching and learning from one another.
Seated around the Thanksgiving table, it’s easy to see a snapshot of all those traits passed down from generation to generation – everything from eye color to physical stature to Great Grandma’s pumpkin pie recipe. The obvious transmission of traits and traditions passed down among relatives is one of the highlights of family gatherings. It’s no wonder that God’s plan is for families to pass along His truth to their children and grandchildren.
In Matthew 22:37, Jesus said the first and greatest commandment is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” This commandment is found in Deuteronomy 6:5, and is followed by, “And these words which I command you shall be upon your heart, and you shall teach them diligently to your children.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7, emphasis mine.) Your first charge as a parent after loving God is to store God’s Word in your heart and teach it diligently to your children.
These same two priorities (your own relationship with God and teaching your children about Him) are also commanded in Deuteronomy 4:9: “Be careful and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” (He includes grandparents, too!) The family is God’s design for the preservation of historical revelation – generation to generation.
And this is serious business to God. He is clear time and again what He wants each parent and grandparent to understand and act upon:
“You shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul . . . And you shall teach them to your children.” Deuteronomy 11:18, 19
“We will not hide them (God’s teachings) from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord.” Psalm 78:4
“I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.” Psalm 89:1
“One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.” Psalm 145:4
“Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation.” Joel 1:3
Clearly God desires parents and grandparents to live out their faith in front of their captive offspring audience. A Bible teaching church and a Christian education are certainly useful tools, but God is unwavering in that the family is His first plan for passing along His truths.
Perhaps you didn’t grow up with parents or grandparents who passed on the Word of God to your family. In that case, you have the glorious opportunity to start a new, eternally blessed branch of your family tree. We serve a God of new beginnings and a God who delights in redemption and He appointed you for such a time as this in your family’s history.
God has given parents and grandparents an immense responsibility to share His truths with the next generation. So, as we get ready to pass the turkey, pass the green beans and Aunt Ethel’s cream pie, remember that there is something even sweeter that we are called to pass on to our family members.
“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation….” Psalm 71:18