Day 34: Legacy
How much better to get wisdom than gold!
To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
I was named in honor of my grandfather who died a few weeks before I was born. His best friend persuaded my mother to call me, Tom, the name by which her father was known. I never met my grandfather in person, but I hear he was a character. He told fascinating tales of being a runaway slave in China, stowing aboard a ship to America, and traveling to Alaska as a cook with the U. S. army. He tricked my grandma into marrying him and worked hard to provide a better life. He loved his family, loved to joke around with friends, and one day learned to love the Lord. I never knew my grandfather, but I received his name.
Thankfully . . .
Thankfully, my own children have been blessed to know each of their grandparents not just in the memories of others, but also in person. They are able to experience life together, eat meals, read books, play games, and celebrate birthdays. Our parents have been able to pass on a portion of their lives to another generation. Most importantly, my father and mother were both the first to become Christians in their respective families. My parents then passed on their faith to me and I am passing it on to my children.
So also, in the church, we joyfully pass on our faith to successive generations, for children learn much from those who have gone before. As Paul exhorts Timothy, “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2)—at least four generations of disciples who make disciples. We reinforce this generational upbringing in the church by calling every member to minister to children through Sunday school, youth ministry, Vacation Bible School, intercessory prayer, or simply demonstrating Christ-like love within the bounds of the believing family. It takes a whole church to make disciples of our children.
Proverbs 4 describes this generational pattern of instruction as Solomon teaches his son the same lessons he learned from his father, David: “When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, ‘Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live’” (vv. 3-4). Seeking multiple generations of disciples, Solomon passes on three instructions for a future father: Find wisdom, choose the right path, and keep a good heart. These three words of wisdom will turn boys into men.
First, find wisdom like you would find a good wife: “Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth” (v. 5; see v. 7). Acquire wisdom as if paying a dowry for her hand in marriage. No cost is too great. “Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you. . . . Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her” (vv. 6, 8). “She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown” (v. 9). For a son to become a godly father, he must first make Lady Wisdom his wife.
Secondly, he must choose the right path by walking in the way of wisdom (vv. 10-13, 18) and avoiding the path of the wicked (vv. 14-17, 19). The decisions our children make today will determine their destination tomorrow.
Finally, our children must keep a good heart: “My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. . . . Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Prov. 4:20-21, 23). Each generation must pass on these truths to the generations that follow.
A few years ago, my wife and I prepared a living trust to be activated in the unfortunate case of our demise. It seemed morbid to even contemplate our death, yet we wisely recognized our human mortality and sought to leave behind a lasting legacy. So the other day, when my oldest was hiding from his brothers, I jokingly told my second son, “You are now the eldest. You will receive all the fruits of my inheritance.” Then I told my third son, “And you are the next in line.” They were both extremely excited about moving up in the pecking order and disappointed that I was only joking. It made me realize, however, that my children will inherit whatever I leave them. “How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver” (16:16). Dads, consider today what you will pass on to your children. You might pass on your name, your wealth, or your home, but will you also pass on a lasting spiritual legacy? Begin planning for it today.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Cultivate in me a life of godliness so that I may leave a spiritual legacy for my children. More than property or wealth, I desire to give them what is most important. Help me to do this not just at my death, but even more so throughout my life. Then may they pass down this legacy through many generations. In your Son’s name, Amen.
LifeWork: Write down one way you will apply today’s Proverb.
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