Can you imagine being part of the generation released from slavery in Egypt in the book of Deuteronomy? They were able to see the hand of God in such a mighty way. They saw the 10 plagues. They walked on dry ground through the Red Sea. They tasted manna. They wore the same clothes and sandals for 40 years without them wearing out. (My kids can’t even wear something for 40 days without wearing holes through it.)
The following generation saw amazing things as well. They saw the fulfillment of the promise God made to Abraham. They saw victory in the Promised Land. They saw the hand of God deliver the kings of the Philistines, Canaanites, and many others into their hands. They saw the blessings of obedience and the consequences of disobedience.
I can only imagine these parents and grandparents sitting around a campfire, telling their children about the grand acts of God.
But that doesn’t appear to be the case, because according to Judges 2:10 (ESV), “And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work he had done for Israel.” (Emphasis added.)
One generation. That’s all it took for an entire people to forget God. This was a generation whose parents fought and took over the Promised Land.
They must have had childhood memories of their fathers going to war. They had to remember their mothers at home being concerned for their husbands’ safety. They had to remember when they were told, “Child, it is time to go to our new home. God just delivered it into your Daddy’s hands. Let’s go and start living where God told our ancestor Abraham we would live.”
But apparently they had forgotten all of that.
The same can happen to the young generation growing up today. Your children, their friends, and their generation will not know God simply because you do. Salvation isn’t received through osmosis. But fortunately, God has given us a plan for passing on knowledge of Him to the next generation.
It is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-7. God commands us, His people, to love Him with all our heart, soul, and might. He then says to diligently teach your children “when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
The raising of our children in love and fear of the Lord is something that should be ever-present in the foremost parts of our minds. But I know it can sometimes be difficult to discuss spiritual things with our children, primarily because they have seen us at our worst. They have seen us lose our temper or respond to a situation in a way that did not honor God.
Realize that your failures as human beings do not disqualify you from sharing the gospel with your children. If anything, it only shows them you are still in need of the gospel on a daily basis.
But the Bible makes clear that we are responsible to more than just our own children. We are also responsible for pouring our lives into other members of the growing generation.
In the New Testament, Paul tells Titus that older women in the church are to “train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands” (Titus 2:4-5, ESV).
Then Paul tells the older men “to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness … urge the younger men to be self-controlled” (Titus 2:2,6, ESV).
The idea behind Paul’s words is that the older generation has a responsibility to the younger generation to offer training, mentorship, and relationship. The younger generation has the responsibility of receiving that training with humility and respecting those who have gained wisdom through experience.
So what are you doing today to invest in the generation of tomorrow?