Christian parents: it’s not enough to learn a lesson in life. We need to leave a legacy with our children. Consider the diagnostic questions at the end of this post to evaluate how well you are doing as a parent in leaving a legacy. Listen to the sermon here.
In a relay race it doesn’t matter how far ahead you are, if you botch the hand-off, you lose. And in Daniel 5, we see that even though Nebuchadnezzar was humbled by God, his son Belteshazzar did not learn (Daniel 5:22). Father and son botched the hand-off from one generation to the next. The results were tragic (5:30).
The story begins with Belshazzar throwing a major party in which he defiantly chose to use the golden vessels stolen from the temple in Jerusalem. It was his way of spitting in the face of the God of Israel (Daniel 5:1-4).
Immediately after Belshazzar and his minions began drinking from the golden vessles the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the wall. Belshazzar’s bravado turned to terror (picture the Nazis in the final scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark).
With a goal of interpreting the writing on the wall, the Babylonians once again summoned Daniel and he reviewed their defiance of God and assured them that judgment was coming. Daniel reminded Belshazzar that he had every opportunity to learn that only God is great.
And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this,
The chapter concludes:
That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being sixty-two years old (Daniel 5:30-31).
Parents: Are you leaving a legacy?
The question for parents becomes, “How do we avoid making the same mistakes as Belshazzar?” The first thing to be said is that there is no magic formula. As a pastor, I have observed many Christian parents whose children rebelled against Christ. (Notice that there are 270 comments on this post about unpacking forgiveness with rebellious children!) I do not mean to imply that if parents had only followed some formula, things would have turned out differently. Yet, there are principles to be lived out in our homes.
You can evaluate how you are doing by considering diagnostic questions under each point.
Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God– Parents must remember that the central goal for our families is that our children would believe the Gospel. More than anything else, when we gather before the throne of Christ, we want our children to be there. And God’s Word is what he uses to reach lost people. This means that we must be in church where the Word of God is proclaimed and the Word of God must be heard in our homes as well.
- Parents: How many times has your family heard the Word preached in the last six weeks? It’s not enough for your children to be in church time while you are in the sermon. The preaching of the Word is God’s specifically appointed means for passing on the faith. (See the centrality of preaching in the life of the church).
- Parents: How many times in the last six weeks has your family heard your voice read the words of Scripture? It’s not that hard. But it does take the humility of acknowledging your need for God’s Word. For more, see this post about family devotions when one of our children was 3.
Pray, pray, pray– If our children our to follow Christ, then we must pray for them consistently and often. Prayer must be a way of life in our homes.
- Parents: Do you have a place to pray? As I explain in this post, there is great value in identifying a place where you get down on your knees to intercede for your family.
- Parents: Do you pray together as a family?
Identify and repeat the central stories of your family – We must lead our families in tracing the goodness of God in our own family history. Like Nebuchadnezzar, we all have stories about how God has shown himself in our lives. In some instances, we have learned from our failures. In others, we have seen God bless our obedience. It is not enough for us to know the lessons ourselves, we need to leave a legacy with our children.
- Parents: Can you point your children to mistakes made in the family which need to be avoided?
- Parents: Does your family know of several stories in which God provided or answered prayer in incredible ways? Family stories are one of our most powerful ways to teach our children.
See also the video: How Christian parents should educate their children