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It Only Takes One Generation

Change is one thing in this world that never changes.  People, places, and customs are in a constant state of flux such that almost nothing stays the same over time.  Those who are older can testify of how much the world has changed just in their lifetimes.  History is essentially the records of changes over time, and these records go all the way back to the beginning of the world.  The greatest changes this world has ever seen are recorded in the first chapters of the book of Genesis, which tell of the creation's corruption by sin (Gen. 3) and the world's destruction by water because of man's wickedness (Gen. 6-9).  Ever since these tumultuous beginnings of man's history, continuous changes have abounded.

Knowing that change will certainly come as long as the world continues, it behooves us to consider how we can be a positive influence for God in our generation. In many ways, it is our responsibility to use our time here in this world to build on the successes and to correct the failures of past generations.  It is also our responsibility to prepare the next generation to do the same.  Specifically, each family must prepare its succeeding generation for service to God and resistance to Satan.  In this way, each generation can change for the better, and generation after generation can bring glory to God.

Inactivity in the face of constant change is a certain path to failure, for the currents of ungodliness and the winds of this world will surely prevail against us if our efforts are not focused on the Lord's will.  Consider the damage that can be done by doing nothing.  Perhaps you are satisfied that your family is sufficiently faithful to the Lord.  If you are complacent, then you will sit by idly as if nothing will ever change your family's present circumstances.  Meanwhile, your family is under constant pressure to conform to this world's wicked ways.  Without your diligent efforts to push back these attacks through the message of God's word, how will your family resist?  Perhaps you are not satisfied with your family's faith, but you don't recognize your own opportunity to affect change.  If you are so fatalistic that you think you are powerless to influence your family, then you will sit by idly as your family is lost.  Do you not see that change can be made for the better and that you can be a catalyst to make it happen?

To motivate us to action, let us consider how quickly change can occur.  Nothing can better illustrate the speed of change better than the history of ancient Israel.  The generation of Israel that was delivered from Egyptian bondage was so faithless and evil that none of them were allowed to enter the promised land (Num. 32:13; Deut. 1:34-36).  However, the next generation was able to take the land of Canaan by the power of God and the leadership of Joshua.  Immediately after Joshua and that generation died, "there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel" (Judg. 2:10).  This began the cycles of the period of the judges in which God would punish a wicked generation and then raise up a judge to deliver the next generation, who would then be faithful.  This pattern went on for about 350 years until the time of the kings, which also demonstrated radical changes from generation to generation.  For example, Hezekiah was a very good king in Judah (2Ki. 18:1-8), but his son Manasseh was perhaps the worst king Judah ever had (2Ki. 21:1-16).  In turn, Manasseh's grandson Josiah was one of the best kings of Judah (2Ki. 22:1-2). This history shows that great changes, whether good or bad, can occur in just one generation.

What changes do you want to see for the next generation, and how to you intend to help affect those changes?  For Israel, the answer was simple.  Consider Psalm 78:1-8:

1Listen, O my people, to my instruction; incline your ears to the words of my mouth.

2I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old,

3Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.

4We will not conceal them from their children, but tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.

5For He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers that they should teach them to their children,

6That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children,

7That they should put their confidence in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments,

8And not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not prepare its heart and whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Like Israel, the key to changing the next generation for the better is effectively teaching the word of God.  This responsibility falls upon us and every generation in its time.  The Scripture says in Psalm 145:4, "One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts."  If we will only do this, then great changes can be achieved in one generation.  Will you help change the next generation for the better or the worse?

Stacey E. Durham



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