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When I think of grandparents, I am reminded of my own grandpa who tirelessly worked the ground to make a living. I remember being lifted up by weather-worn hands. He was a quiet man but spoke deeply of the things of God.
Grandparents are a gift, a blessing to family and to Faith Bible Church. In thinking through the ministry of grandparents, a resource that has helped me in my understanding and for this article is Biblical Grandparenting, by Josh Mulvihill. He does a great job showing us how God in His wisdom has given the special role of grandparents to pass on their faith to the next generation.
God’s wisdom as revealed in Scripture is unique. The roles that are clearly taught in Scripture are not suggestions; they are commands.
Life lived out by God’s design works because He is the master architect. When a father understands that his role is to lay down his life and serve his family to the glory of God and lovingly lead, the house functions well (Ephesians 5:23). When a wife submits and respects her husband’s authority as to Christ and lovingly serves her family, the house is being built on a good foundation (Ephesians 5:22). When children obey their parents and honor them the home is strengthened. (Ephesians 6:1).
As we turn our attention to the role of grandparents, I think it is helpful to understand that worldly wisdom is seeking to control the narrative. Satan is very effective through the various means at his disposal to communicate ungodly messages.
The American culture has unwritten rules about how involved grandparents are to be. The basic premise is that they should not be a burden, overstep or interfere with the family.
From my perspective, there are three main false ideas that Satan wants grandparents to believe about their role.
The role of the godly grandparent in a godly home brings depth, encouragement, truth, sacrifice, love, caring, peace, and joy. Psalm 78:1-8 speaks clearly about the role of godly grandparents. They are to be disciple-makers, focusing on salvation (verse 7, “set their hope in God”) and sanctification (“keep his commandments”).
The word “heritage” is helpful at this point because it describes the faith that grandparents have and the opportunity to pass it on to their grandchildren. Deuteronomy 4:9 sums this up: “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.”
Psalm 78 is historical in nature as it stands as a warning to grandparents to take their role seriously. The failed example of family discipleship is clearly stated in verse 8: “they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.”
“Stubborn and rebellious” encapsulates the outcome that the psalmist wants you to avoid with your family. So how is this avoided? God gives us three principles from this chapter that are critical to passing faith on to future generations.
First, God has a multigenerational approach for families. Psalm 78:5-6 says, “he commanded our fathers to teach to their children that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children.” Four generations!
Do we think multigenerationally when we think of discipleship? We should. God does. Grandparents, are you thinking how you can impact the future generations for the glory of God? Are you working on a heritage and legacy that will not rust and moth cannot eat?
The second principle of the grandparents’ role is to tell God’s works. Psalm 78:4 says, “tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might.” To tell something is to report, or make a written record or make known.
Grandparents, you have something to tell. It does not matter when it happened; the point is that you have a story to tell your grandchildren and great-grandchildren of God’s faithfulness!
Grandparents, you have something to tell. It does not matter when it happened; the point is that you have a story to tell your grandchildren and great-grandchildren of God’s faithfulness! Your grandchildren need to hear of God’s glorious deeds in your life, whether they be big or small.
The last principle is to teach God’s law. Psalm 78:5 says, “He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers (grandfathers) to teach to their children.”
Teaching is an important part of discipling. The Hebrew word for teach can also include the meaning of being a guide. A good guide knows the end destination and how to show others how to get there, and he lovingly instructs them when they get off the path.
Worldly wisdom says that grandparents are not a necessity in the life of the family. Godly wisdom says that grandparents are a gift to their family and church. The history of Israel shows clearly that grandparents are critically important to formation of faith in the young.
The next time you see your parents or grandparents lovingly sacrifice for their grandchildren, tell them that they are a blessing.
Biblical Grandparenting and Discipling Your Grandchildren: Great Ideas to Help Them Know, Love, and Serve God, both by Josh Mulvihill.
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