John Wesley said, “What one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace.” He was speaking of sin, and we see this, played out in history repeatedly. But I’d like to look at it from a different point.
Kids continually listen and watch, and mimic us adults. And they often follow the examples they’ve been shown. Kids from violent homes are more likely to become violent. Children of alcoholics have a greater chance of having the same problem.
So if we raise a child in a critical, judgemental atmosphere, or gossipy home, how is he likely to turn out?
Most assuredly we all want to raise loving kids. Children who care about others and treat them with kindness. Respectful and nice to have around. Which is why it’s important to remember that “What one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace,” John Wesley.
But it’s also true that what one generation embraces, the next will embrace even more.
SO WHAT IF… we applied ourselves more wholeheartedly to loving as Christ did?
WHAT IF… we learned to give up our rights, not reacting angrily or vindictive when wronged or slighted?
WHAT IF… we prayed and read God’s Word with more zeal than we give to our jobs and hobbies?
WHAT IF… we concentrated more on using our finances for God’s work — helping the poor, the widows and orphans, and spreading the Good News?
WHAT IF… we tamed our tongues and attitudes to the point that gentleness became an automatic response?
WHAT IF… we became known everywhere for showing love, mercy, and patience — even to those with whom we disagree?
WHAT IF… others started seeing us as people who don’t merely preach — but practice what they believe?
WHAT IF… we hungered and thirsted so much for justice, righteousness, and purity of heart and soul that it turned our lives upside down?
Possibly even causing us to move to a poor neighborhood just to help the needy. Or fixing up our spare room for an unwed mom. Or downsizing homes so we can give more to helping others.
Yes, what one generation tolerates, the next will embrace.
And what one generation truly embraces, the next will embrace even more.
How do I know this? First because God’s Word promises it.
Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children… Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.” Deuteronomy 4:9; 31:12-13
And secondly, because I’ve seen it in action. Children do follow example. For good or for bad. So parents, be careful what you allow. Your kids are eating it up, and will likely put it into action.
BUT IF WE’RE CAREFUL TO SET A GOOD EXAMPLE, WE COULD HAVE THE JOY OF SEEING OUR CHILDREN TURN OUT LIKE TIMOTHY.
Timothy, who the apostle Paul said was like a dear child to him. Timothy, who left all to go with Paul, following in Christ’s footsteps. And who Paul commended for his sincere faith. Faith that he had learned from his godly mother and grandmother. Sincere faith that he truly lived out. And faith that he was willing to give his all for.
Not that this is a guarantee, for in the end, children have to make their own decision to follow Christ. But moms and dads, and grandparents, setting a good example can make an immense difference. Spirituality is better taught than caught.
May the Lord help us to set a good example for our children. And grant us sons and daughters like Timothy — with sincere faith and goodness.