There is little argument among Bible-believing Christians that we are living in an age of cultural decline. We can look at so-called mainstream Christianity and see this great apostasy taking place. Malachi 4:6 says “And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” We as a culture may be living in that curse, due to the fact that our families as a whole have disintegrated and fallen away from God.
Fathers have left the family in droves over the last few decades. According to the 2007 U.S. Census, 21.8 million children lived in single parent homes. That is over one-quarter of all the children in the U.S., and of those, 84% were not living with a father. If the father is not in the home, he cannot be a constant influence on his children.
Many fathers that remain with the family also drop the ball when it comes to modeling a godly walk with Christ. Faith should be handed down like a cherished family heirloom. The only thing you can take to heaven with you is your children. If they see Christ modeled by their fathers, they are more likely to take Him as their savior.
What will be your legacy if your children only learn of God through their Sunday school teacher? How can you leave a lasting godly legacy to your children and beyond?
E. Ray Moore and his wife Gail have attempted to answer this question with their book, The Promise of Jonadab: Building a Christian Family Legacy in a Time of Cultural Decline. This book uses Jonadab, a minor Old Testament character whose godly legacy is exposed and held up to Israel as an example of virtuous living in Jeremiah 35. Jonadab had instilled in his children certain morals, ethics, and most of all, faith in the one true God. Approximately 250 years later, God had Jeremiah test his descendents, the Rechabites. Every one of them passed the test, so God gave a special blessing to Jonadab and his descendents, saying “Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not lack a man to stand before Me forever.’” Because of this blessing, there are still Rechabites to this day.
Moore uses the example of five families to show certain principles that he believes show a Jonadabian structure for instilling godliness in our children and beyond, to our farthest descendants.
As Americans, we have neglected time together as a family; we justify our lack of togetherness by labeling the little time we do spend together as “quality time.” Quality time is usually an excuse for not spending quantity time with our children.
Meal times are a perfect place to start acting like a family again. Model how to give thanks for your meal with earnest prayer. Turn the TV off, and actually have a conversation with your spouse and children. Ask your children questions about their day, and try to apply biblical principles to any issues or troubles they may be facing. Use the time to ground your family in the word of God.
Older children involved in sports can put a strain on time together. Each sport must be evaluated in the light of what its impact will be on the family. If your child plays a sport, turn it into a family outing. Practice with your child, and model Christ to your child’s teammates.
Do not forget that Christ is the head of your family. Excluding Him from this family time would be a mistake.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the modern American over the age of 15 spends an average weekend doing .56 hours of organizational, civic, or religious activities, as opposed to 6.40 hours spent on leisure and sports. Notice religious activities are grouped together with organizational and civic activities. People spend almost 12 times as many hours in pursuit of recreation than worshiping.
You may think regular worship just means going to church, but it is far more involved than that. In addition to church services, regular worship includes quiet time, Bible study, prayer, and meditation on Scripture. When we model these things to our children, we are telling them by our actions that they are important. Children watch their parents and know if the parents are living out the things they are teaching them. If your faith is not genuine, you may be able to fool the people in your church, but you will never fool the child who grows up in your home.
Modeling godly behavior is so important to a child. A father who is just going through the motions will soon discover he has lost the respect of his children. I can not stress enough that they will know if your godly lifestyle is real, or just a show.
Be responsible for your child’s education
Moore feels you should bring your children out of public schools, into what he calls “the Promised Land of Christian schools or home schooling.” The aim is to spark revival in our families, churches, and nation by giving our children a Christian environment that is free of government indoctrination. You can learn more about this at his website https://www.exodusmandate.org .
Others feel that it is enough to be involved in their children’s education by reviewing what is taught each day, and answering any questions or conflicts their children may have. Some school districts have been able to use a released time, which allows the children to go off campus to receive Christian instruction.
Whatever you decide is best for your children, you must remember that you are the one ultimately responsible for the education your child receives. It is up to you to, as Proverbs 22:6 states, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Involve your children in ministry
Getting children involved with you in ministry is another way to instill in them just how important faith is in life. When they see how you interact with others, they know the faith and reasons behind your actions. Involving them in faithful actions will teach them that they too can serve God by being His hands and feet.
The Great Commission
Jesus, before He ascended into heaven, left us instructions that we call the Great Commission. He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.” We have gotten good at going, and often neglect the disciple-making part. When we “go”, sometimes we neglect our own family; we justify it by telling ourselves we are serving God. But I will submit that our families are a part of “all the nations” that Christ mentioned.
Those called out of their families will be leaving a family that is lost and hostile to the Gospel or believers who are mature and in no need of a father’s further discipling. If we get caught up in the big issues of our day to the detriment of our family, we have failed.
Jonadab had a legacy of faithful descendants 250 years after he died. It was such a legacy that God held him up as an example and made him a promise that his lineage would always have a man after God’s heart. If we are faithful to God and our families by modeling a godly walk for our children, our legacy can be the same.