In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed. …Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn – for he has done it. (Psalm 22:4-5, 30-31)
It has been said that the problem with living is that it’s so daily. The same could be said of parenting. Whether it’s getting your children to eat their vegetables, clean up their rooms, do their schoolwork, or have good manners, parenting is daily. Consistency and intentionality are absolutely required. And in no area of parenting is this truer than in passing on our faith – our beliefs, worldview, values, character, conduct, etc., to our children.
What we’re talking about here is spiritual reproduction.
The primary truism about spiritual reproduction is this: We can’t reproduce what we’re not ourselves. Cats aren’t going to reproduce dogs, no matter what. We reproduce what we are. Therefore, it’s absolutely imperative that moms and dads are daily, consistently, intentionally, and faithfully practicing the faith they profess…the faith they are seeking to instill in the hearts, minds, and souls of their children.
In a real sense, this is more than mere example. Faith really needs to be in the “DNA” of the parents. Having said that, our example is vital because children will copy what is being modeled for them at home. It wasn’t dumb luck that my kids all turned out to be Georgia Bulldog fans.
But passing on our faith requires more than example. We are called to actively lead them, instruct them, tell them, pray with them, pray for them, admonish them, counsel them, and nurture them (love them!!!). The call to pass on our faith to our children in this manner (as well as to pray that it extends to our children’s children for a thousand generations) runs throughout Scripture. For example…
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 – Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.  I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old–  what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us.  We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.  He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children,  so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.  Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.
Ephesians 6:4 – Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
These are just three clear examples of Scripture’s overwhelming multigenerational vision for the extension of God’s kingdom. Many more could be cited. In truth, we’re talking about more than quoting a few texts. This multigenerational vision is a key thread that runs from Genesis to Revelation.
Early in Psalm 22, the psalmist declared that those who came before his generation put their trust in the Lord and were not disappointed. Later in the same Psalm he stated that future generations would also serve the Lord because they would be told about the Lord. If you really think about it, how else will Christianity be passed on? If the love, holiness, grace, works, and words of God are going to be known two hundred years from now, then we must pass them on.
But to whom? Some Christians talk about the need to evangelize and disciple the lost but sometimes seem to forget about God’s covenant children under their own roof. If we think in terms of concentric circles, our next priority (or circle) after our own relationship with God (because, again, we can’t reproduce what we’re not ourselves) should be our own family. Our goal, of course, is that our children come to know, love and follow God and pass on that faith to their children and their children’s children for a thousand generations (Deut. 5:10, 7:9).
(By the way, it goes without saying that we are to make disciples of all nations, but this is a devotional about passing our faith on to our children.)
In a real sense, our children are not our own. They are God’s. We are stewards of God’s children. That means that we have been given the vital and joyful responsibility and blessing of raising these children to know, love and follow their heavenly Father. And while such an upbringing is so daily, we need to realize that we only get one chance. It’s my prayer that God will honor the prayers, blood, sweat, tears, effort, and love that we pour into our children (his children). To see them become the godly adults that we’ve been striving for will make it all worth it in the end.