The ancient philosopher, Socrates, was quoted as once saying, “Fellow citizens, why do you turn and scrape every stone to gather wealth and take so little care of your children to whom one day you will leave it all.”
Abraham Lincoln said that “a child is a person who is going to carry on what you have started. He is going to sit where you are sitting, and when you are gone, attend to the things which you think are important…he is going to move in and take over your churches, schools, universities and corporations. All your books are going to be judged by him.”
Most loving parents would like to leave their children something; perhaps an inheritance or family heirloom. Because we love our children, we would like to pass on to them something the use of which would make their lives more comfortable and enjoyable.
I think the wise king Solomon must have had this on his mind when he wrote, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.” (Proverbs 22:1)
Think with me about somethings we might leave our children. Let’s start with Solomon’s thought:
- A Good name. Not necessarily a “big name.” Mordecai did for the best part of his life what was unknown to most, but he surely left behind a good name! Epaphras did not have a big name, but Paul said he labored fervently for the Colossian Christians in prayer. (Col.4:12) Whoever heard of Andronicus or Junia? Not many of us, but in Romans 16:7 Paul said they were “of note among the apostles.”
Not all will speak well of us, but we should strive to so live that our life will be “honest among the Gentiles that whereas they speak evil against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (I Peter 2:12)
- A proper training, Provs. 22:6: “Train up a child in the way that he should go….” Training cannot come apart from correction, correction that at the time may not be appreciated for “no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous.” (Hebs.12:11) “If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them and half as much money.” (Abigail Van Buren) Know that training is the job of a parent, their ultimate responsibility: not the State, nor the school, nor the church but the parent. “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” (Provs. 22:15) The job will not be a pleasant one, and at times it will be annoying or even aggravating, but training up your children is a God-appointed task given to you.
- A good work ethic: “The slothful man sayeth, there is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.” (Provs.22:13) We must be diligent and set a good example in our attitude toward work. Albert Schweitzer said that there are only three ways to teach a child. The first is by example. The second is by example, and the third is by example. And, with example, enthusiasm, remembering that the ground, not work, was cursed and work is the remedy! It is in fact, a blessing! One man, laid off from work after 45 years, said, “If I had known it was going to be temporary, I wouldn’t have taken it.”
- A right view of finances. Again, quoting Solomon’s proverbs, 23:5: “Wilt thou set thine eyes on that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.” We need to teach our children that all that we have is from God and He is the owner of all and whatever He blesses us with materially should be considered as a stewardship on our part, and that Jacob’s vow to give back to God a tenth of all that God would entrust to his management is a universal, timeless wise decision. (Gen. 28:20) Our young people need to learn, by precept and by our example, the blessedness of giving generously and the wisdom of managing money wisely. “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” (Provs. 22:7) A former teenager once wrote, “Ten things I wish I had known before I was 21: That it was really important to be a Christian; What I was going to do for a living; That my health after 30 depended in a large degree on what I put into my stomach before I was 21; How to take care of money, that I was really a trustee of what I had; The asset of being neatly and sensibly dressed; That habits are mighty hard to change after your are 21; That worthwhile things require time, patience and hard work; that the world would give me just about what I deserved; That a thorough education is good, but a knowledge of God’s Word is better and that the value of absolute truthfulness is everything.” (unknown)
- Finally (and there could be many more), A proper respect for a Godly heritage. “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.” (Provs. 22:28). Some of those landmarks are “The inspiration and absolute authority of God’s Word for faith and practice; the landmark of separation from ungodliness; the landmark of love of God, of neighbors and of one another; the landmark of truth through a study of scriptures and the landmark of “Preach the Word.…” Then there is the landmark of a love for and involvement in world missions through God-appointed missionaries sent through another landmark, the local New Testament church. There are multitudinous other landmarks which our fathers have set before us and passed on to us as a Godly heritage that we must teach our children to respect properly. To do so will, of course, go directly again the current culture grain of popular thinking.
In summary, “Whatever you write on the heart of a child, no water can wash away. The sand may be shifted when billows are wild and the efforts of time may decay, but whatever you write on the heart of a child, no water can wash away.” (unknown)
Oliver B. Greene, evangelist and author of Bible commentaries, once said, “I will never live to be an old man because I did not obey and honor my parents.” We must, as parents and grandparents, live so that when we are gone, we will have left behind the legacy of a good name, faithful and loving discipline, a good work ethic, a right view of finances and a proper respect for a Godly heritage so that the generation after us will neither move nor remove the ancient landmarks.
“We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength, and His wonderful works that He hath done.” (Ps.78:4)