When we think of an inheritance, words such as wills, fortunes or possessions may come to our mind. As parents, many of us desire to leave an inheritance of value to our children, but there is a far more precious inheritance we can leave behind – one that can impact beyond our earthly years. This is the gift of a godly heritage: laying a strong spiritual foundation that points our children to Christ.
In Deuteronomy 6:7, God commands us to teach His truth to our children:
You shall teach them diligently to your children 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.”
In Joshua 3:7 – 4:10, we read about how God miraculously led the Israelites across the Jordan River. When the entire nation had crossed the river, God commanded twelve men, one from each tribe, to take up twelve stones from the riverbed. These stones were to serve as a memorial to their children of God’s faithfulness to His people.
When we teach God’s truth to our children and children’s children, we give them something of much greater worth than rubies or diamonds: the unshakeable foundation of God’s Word. In a world that is increasingly hostile and dark, our children need to be pointed to Jesus, the true Light of the world (II Corinthians 4:6). As we proclaim God’s faithfulness and instil His Word in their hearts, we set up the “stones of remembrance” that can form a holy legacy in our families. I am very blessed to have received a Godly heritage from my parents and, in turn, strive to pass on this spiritual heritage to my children. Here are two lessons that my parents imparted to me.
A firm foundation
Firstly, they taught me that God’s Word is infallible and must be the foundation for our lives. As an old hymn declares, How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent word! The best gift I received from my parents was the first Bible they bought for me. I was thrilled because it was my own and I could read it at any time, and it became the roadmap that guided me through my formative years. As II Timothy 3:16-17 states, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Knowing how crucial the Bible was and is to my spiritual growth, when I became a parent, my wife and I committed to reading the Bible to our children each night before bedtime, starting with a simple children’s Bible. When they were old enough to read on their own, we gifted each child their own Bible, just as my parents did for me. As a family, we would read together each morning, and learned to hide God’s Word in our hearts by memorising different books of the Bible together. As we committed each passage to memory, it helped us to meditate on Scripture “day and night” and fill our minds with truth. Today, it is a joy to see my children continue to read God’s Word and share their personal devotions with us. Last year, I bought new study Bibles for each of them as Christmas presents to continue this legacy!
The body of Christ
The second lesson my parents taught me is that it is essential to be a part of the local church. Throughout my childhood, my parents prioritised attending church and instilled in me the conviction that church life is essential and non-optional for every Christian (Hebrews 10:25). Whether singing as a congregation, teaching in Sunday school, welcoming visitors, serving morning tea, vacuuming the floor, discussing difficult topics in life groups, praying for each other or evangelising on the street, each aspect is vital for our spiritual growth.
In addition, my parents showed me that to love Christ is to obey His commands, which includes actively serving in the body of Christ. Throughout my childhood, I saw both my parents minister with their hearts and hands in the church and even remember watching my father once build coffins for the church in response to a need. Today, I follow in their footsteps as I serve in church with my wife, and my children have been able to grow up watching our example. By God’s grace, I have had the joy of seeing them walk with the Lord and learn to serve Him in the areas of ministry He has placed them in.
As we see in Scripture, God has commanded us to pass on a holy legacy to our children. This instruction is first stated in Deuteronomy 6:7 and then reiterated in Deuteronomy 11:19. If we do not do so with intention, the world will take over our role and impart its secular legacy to our children. Paul warned us,
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” – Galatians 6:7
As parents, we desire what is best for our children, and 3 John 1:4 tells us that there is “no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” If you have not begun to pass on a godly heritage to your children, it is not too late to start now! Young adults, start equipping yourselves, because the day will come when it will be your turn to pass on a spiritual heritage to the next generation.
Here are some things I found helpful:
- Hide God’s Word in your heart – memorise Scripture as a family. I am amazed at how much more quickly children are able to memorise than adults!
- Pray with and for your children – show your children how to pour out your requests and concerns to God in prayer.
- Foster a servant’s heart – model servanthood to your children by practising Christian hospitality, generosity and kindness to those inside and outside of the body of Christ.
- Share what God is teaching you – encourage your children to share what God has been teaching them – get the conversation going around your dinner table! Let your children “taste and see that the Lord is good” by hearing how He has worked in your life in real and personal ways.
- Build a library of Christian resources – read biographies of great men and women of the faith to be reminded of the “great cloud of witnesses” that goes before us.
- Walk the talk – the strongest testimony your children will see is how you live day-to-day. Let your words, conduct, actions and attitudes reflect the Heavenly Father you serve.
May God bless you bountifully as you seek to proclaim His truth to the next generation!
One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.”
– Psalm 145:4