Pass It On

April 2, 2017

As believers, we have an obligation not only to our own generation but to the generations to come. Firstly, we owe it to our generation to live holy and blameless lives so that we may model the life of Christ here on earth. Jesus himself said that we ought to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Secondly, we owe it to the next generation to prepare the right foundation of faith for them. If the foundation that we build is strong, they will also be able to live holy and blameless lives in their time. But failing to do so will lead them to be a generation that will fail as well, just like what happened to the generation of the Israelites that came out of Egypt.  “After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10).

Even from the beginning, it was God’s plan that we faithfully pass on our faith to the next generation. He said, “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” (Deut. 6:6-9). There is no better way to pass these commands than to constantly talk about them and to live by them. Realizing that we are a forgetful people, the Lord even prescribed ways on how to remind ourselves of these laws.

But because there are so many laws to remember, there were those who were tempted to use this as a reason for non-observance. This could be the underlying reason why an expert in the law tested Jesus saying, “‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ In reply, Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matt. 22:36-40). This response might seem to be too simplistic but if we consider this seriously, it is not easy to love and serve the Lord. He demands that we give our all in order to prove our love. Likewise, it is not easy to love our neighbors, especially when they are not nice to us. While these entail a lot of sacrifices, these will nevertheless bring about not only the righteousness that God requires from us but the material and spiritual blessings he promised.

In his Psalm, King David pleaded, “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come” (Psalm 71:18). This should be the cry of everyone concerning the next generation. Reaching out to them should be our mission. And for as long as we have this mission, the Lord will sustain us with good health and strength even as we advance in age. Indeed, we will need a lot of strength to be able to pass on our faith to the next generation. It is like in a race where the incoming runner is passing on the baton to the outgoing runner. They only have limited space called the Exchange Zone where they can do the passing of the baton. If they miss it or drop the baton in the process, they will lose. It is necessary, therefore, that at a certain point, both runners are running side by side, to make the passing of the baton safe. Meanwhile, the outgoing runner must be ready to receive the baton and focus his eyes on what is ahead. He should not be distracted by the incoming runner’s struggles, if any.

But will the Lord indeed sustain us as we embark on this mission of passing on the baton of faith to our children? Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord said, “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you” (Isa. 46:4). This assurance is comforting to everyone – young and old. The Lord will carry us through all the challenges that will come our way and, if we ever fail, he will rescue us. Therefore, we should make the passing of the baton of faith our priority for us to fully benefit from all these promises. Let us not be like those who put priority on the accumulation of material wealth, hoping that they have something to pass on to their children. While this is also important since the Book of Proverbs said that “a good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children” (Prov. 13:22), it is not as critical as teaching our children to have faith in God who gives the power and the ability to make wealth. Supposing we are able to leave behind an inheritance, what will happen to our children if they lose it through misfortune? Well, that should be the least of our worries since they have the Lord, who will prosper them just he is doing to us.  Let us therefore diligently do the work of passing on our faith to our children, that they too will be blessed in their generation. Hallelujah!