Not only for me…

Not only for me…

Where does the time go? Today is Theo’s fifth birthday; these milestones are almost trivial to us in our modern society, where we all expect to live into our eighties and nineties. However, did you know that the child mortality rate in the United States for children under the age of five was 462.9 deaths per thousand births in 1800, meaning that for every thousand babies born in 1800, over 46 percent did not make it to their fifth birthday? And just 100 years ago, in 1915, that number was 17% did not make it to their fifth birthday. Today that number is less than a percentage point, approximately seven children out of one thousand. A remarkable change in 200 years! Adult lifespans were not much longer, with many life expectancies only reaching into the forties for much of human history. With this in mind, we should be thankful every day God blesses us with our closest relationships. Regardless of the length of our lives, no one promises us that there will be a tomorrow; therefore, we should cherish each day.

A theme is carried throughout scripture concerning the generations of our families. Subtle as it is; however, it is continuously present. It is the existence of generational faith. During the first five books of God’s word, God repeats a promise to the Israelites, stating:

Deuteronomy 5:6-10 – “I am the LORD your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. “You must not have any other god but me. 8 “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind, or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. 9 You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected–even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. 10 But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.”

Because of the average length of life in those days, there was little generational overlap. We truly live in an unusual period of history where there is the possibility of seeing not only your grandchildren but your great-grandchildren as well, meaning our influence stretches farther than ever. Yet, this wisdom rings true that the life I lead will affect not only my personal outcome but also the choices of my children and grandchildren. If I start chasing other “gods,” my children will learn to follow that idol. I know this is a difficult piece of wisdom to digest, yet it is in God’s word. The things I value will be the same things my children love, whether I espouse them openly or indirectly.

Building a generational faith is a challenge for me personally. I am a type “A” personality and love being busy and productive. However, I have witnessed that many “preacher kids” see what their parent works as a product of career choice and not a product of faith. Therefore, it is vital that I teach my children that I do what I do because I love God and people, and not for a paycheck. Otherwise, they will perceive their dad as just a hard worker and not a faithful servant.

To wrap this up, this means I am setting up future generations of my family based on my current actions. The pattern and example of my life that I exhibit are what will last for generations. Think about the Israelites; they could constantly remember the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and God’s faithfulness to them even when they were less than perfect. Take a look at the books for 1-2 Kings and 1-2 Chronicles and see how often it says they committed the sins of their fathers. Time and time again, we are reminded in scripture about the repercussions of our actions.

The Christian faith is not only about my faithfulness, but Christianity is also about living for others. Therefore, I am not a Christ-follower for myself only; I am faithful for my kids… for future generations… not only for me. And if you don’t have any children, then you are still living for future generations. Because the principles apply whether you a parent, aunt/uncle, acquaintance. We are attempting to live in such a way that we model what real faith looks like so that future generations can follow our example. Therefore we choose to love God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength so that my five-year-old kid may, in turn, love God with every fiber of his being. And so that perhaps one day, my great-great-grandchildren will also know and love God. 

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