A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just. - Proverbs 13:22
The Bible speaks often about leaving an inheritance for our children - not necessarily as a command, just as prudent advice. Applying this principle to material things, it is easy to see how helpful it would be to have the parent generation jump-starting their children's generation with sound financial teaching and the means for them to start their own families with tangible goods rather than debt. This second generation will then, in turn, be able to help the third generation so much more, and so on. I am not talking about amassing and hording money. Rather, I was thinking along the lines of how in the old days, families would pass part of their land on to each of their children, and help them build a house/farm on it, or how the family business would be passed down from father to son for generation after generation.
The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. - Psalm 16:6
Regardless of your financial standing, this same principle can be applied to the spiritual realm, which is also infinitely more important than the physical/material.
Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart. - Psalm 119:111
When we think about the importance of passing on to our children a heritage of godliness, living a life that strives to be in line with Bible principles becomes a much more urgent responsibility. There are more areas than I can list here, but I will give a few examples:
- Marriage: What are you passing on to the next generation about marriage? I don't mean having a perfect marriage, because nobody has one since we are all married to, and are ourselves, imperfect people. I am referring to just how you deal with these imperfect unions that God says are to last a lifetime. If you throw in the towel and get divorced, do you realize that you are making it so much more likely that your own children will one day grow up and have one dysfunctional relationship after the other? If, however, you ride out the bumps (great and small) in front of your children, they will learn that marriage truly is "for better, for worse, till death do us part", and they may themselves are likely to make a more prudent choice of spouse than the parent generation did. Few of us were afforded a chance to see such commitment in our parents' lives ourselves, but the buck needs to stop somewhere, so it might as well be with us. If you look around families that you know, you may notice that couples who stay married usually have children who themselves are even more happily married.
- Birth control: Life in an ever-growing family is very different from a "statist" family, regardless of the total number of children. Growing and stretching to uncomfortable new levels physically, mentally, and spiritually is a MUST if the non-birth control family is supposed to stay sane and maybe even succeed. There is no such thing as permanently "finding a groove" and growing comfortable, because just when we do, a monkey wrench in the form of an adorable but very needy baby is thrown into the mix, and suddenly we're back to square one. I always think it's funny how I think "Wow, this is so much work, I can hardly handle this!" only to one baby later think "Wow, my life was SO easy back then!" It's all perspective, and allowing God to control family size will really expand your perspective beyond what you ever thought possible or maybe even wanted to experience. If I were to stop and think about how many more children I might be having in my life time - children that haven't even been born yet, and that need to be helped from infancy to adulthood, it can really be an overwhelming thought. As much growing as I still have to do in so many areas of being a mother, I can at least see how I have grown in certain areas already that I would not have grown in had it not been for the ever-growing number of precious children. Children are a blessing, and God uses having them to teach us as much as we teach them. Even just growing up in relatively "large" family with 5 kids helped me so much to have a jump-start on raising my own children. I hope that our sons are learning what it means to provide for a large family, and that our daughters are learning how to sustain it from the inside. If they know everything we parents know at the point when they are getting married, they will have a 20+ year lead on what we knew when we were in their situation as newlyweds. THAT is the kind of heritage that we all should be fortunate to have.
- Homeschooling: Much along the lines of the last point. Again, this will pick up momentum as one generation passes the torch to another, because children whose parents make their education their personal responsibility are so much smarter and well educated (haters, hold your comments - it's a fact.) I wish I had known even one tenth of what our children know when I was their age, or have their mental agility. The human mind is absolutely amazing, especially when it is cultivated rather than lulled and sedated.
- Homemaking: Being a homemaker, I am ever aware of trying to pass everything I know on to our children, especially the girls (although if I succeed at teaching all of our boys to put their laundry in the hamper and their shoes in their cubbies I think my future daughters-in-law will love me to pieces). All of our children learn to cook and clean, because I firmly believe that learning ANY productive skill is worthwhile regardless of gender. As they get older, I truly hope and even pray that our sons will be taught my husband's line of work by him, so they can work in the family business as young adults even if they later choose a different line of work. It will give them an edge not only financially (a family business can employ their children at younger ages than outside businesses are allowed to hire them), but also professionally. My husband learned like that from his own dad, and I know it has helped him in his job many times. If our daughters leave home knowing all the tricks and shortcuts that it took me years and decades to figure out, they will themselves be able to build on this foundation and reach heights I would never be able to reach myself. The Bible calls children arrows, and it is so true, because we have the opportunity to shoot them beyond what we ourselves could accomplish.
- Health: Not so much a direct aspect of "godliness", but since "all that a man hath will he give for his life" (Job 2:4) , this point still has great bearing on our everyday lives. Maybe laughable to those who frequent the Golden Arches regularly, this is actually very important to us. I wish I myself had not been formula-fed, vaccinated, and had my health permanently interfered with on so many levels. In some ways, trying to navigate through the maze of mis- and disinformation out there is like trying to reinvent the wheel. I sure would have loved to be taught all the traditional wisdom that used to be passed down from mothers to daughters about how to be (and stay) healthy, naturally, or to not fear pregnancy and childbirth as a deadly disease, or how to use herbs for healing, just to name a few examples. While I am starting from square one, our own children won't have to. In a world where in one century we have gone from the majority of people dying of old age to 1 out of two men and 1 in three women suffering cancer in their lifetime, in addition to a whole host of other entirely preventable modern illnesses, I would love for our children to be able to break out of this mold and not have to struggle with poor health their entire lives.
There, I have just run through all my favorite "hobby horses", but you can probably think of many more and better examples yourself. I hope this post encouraged you to look beyond your own generation and consider the benefits that we can bestow on those who come after us. The next time your spouse is acting unreasonable, or you get questioned at the store as to when you are going to stop having children, or people hate you for homeschooling because it pricks their own conscience, or you stay up late researching a new topic you are trying to learn about, or you get challenged for not injecting your child with toxic substances and aborted fetal tissue in the name of Franken-health - just think of it as laying up, little by little, a better heritage for your own children.
For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name. - Psalm 61:5
And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. - Isaiah 58:12