Preserving Our National Heritage

As a nation, we are interested in preservation. Laws prevent tearing down historically significant buildings. Laws preserve habitats of endangered animals, as well as preserve forests, everglades and wetlands. But have we neglected our most precious and valuable resource—our children?

God said our children are a “heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3 KJV), and he gave comprehensive instructions for their preservation.
“Now this is the commandment which the Lord your God has commanded … that you might do them in the land where you are going … so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments … all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged” (Deuteronomy 6:1–2).
Does this describe your home?

“O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the Lord … has promised you. … Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and … soul and … might. And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:3–7).
Paul instructs fathers to raise their children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

Parental Stewardship

Do you remember the parable of the talents, in which three servants were entrusted with portions of money until their master returned (Matthew 25)? One servant not faithful in his stewardship was condemned. Oh, he didn't waste the money. He simply did not use it wisely. We further note that “it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy” (1 Corinthians 4:2).

Parents, how trustworthy or faithful have you been with the treasure God has given you? I am aware that the best of parents can have children that turn out sorry, but I am also well aware that in our present culture, too many neglect the most important aspect of our stewardship—the spiritual and moral education of our children. We get mighty upset when we hear news of parents neglecting and abusing their children. I cannot understand the mentality that allows parents to keep a seven-year-old girl locked in an animal cage every day or that feeds a child only one cold bowl of oatmeal a day. But are we any less guilty when we do not feed their souls or when we do not teach them the meaning of sacrifice that they might become like the One who gave His life for them?

So many young people I know have many possessions: cars, TVs, CD players, designer label clothes, and large allowances—all the accoutrements of an affluent society. But I also see many of these young people so caught up in sports and material possessions that the Lord and his kingdom are a distant second place in their lives. “But they are just children,” the parents say, “let them have their fun now. They'll have time for the more serious stuff later.” And that's true—unless they tragically die at 15 or 16, like a couple of young men I once knew.

Somehow I must have missed the part where Moses instructed Israel to “begin instructing your children at age 21.” All I remember is that they were to teach their children “diligently,“ to love God with all their “heart, soul and might.“ If we do not teach our children to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) when they are young, when will they learn it? The habits and attitudes learned in youth are the ones that stay with us for life. We cannot satisfy the needs of the soul with material things, no matter how well-meaning Mom and Dad may be when they want their children to have the things they never had. And is social acceptance so valuable that we will allow our children to compromise moral principles and go to the dances, etc., in order to be popular?

“For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
I have a great affection for young people. I have enjoyed working with them in various environments and have met some great ones. And I have met others who could have such a great influence for good, if they had parents who would have encouraged their spiritual development more.