A Letter to My Grandchildren About What Really Matters
A Christian grandfather tries to summarize what is important in life.
(Written in 2005, slightly revised in 2013)
Dear grandchildren (and great-grands),
In 1984, the year after Nana’s and my return to Canada after 20 years living in Miami, I wrote "A Letter to Our Children" and sent it to all the Warden siblings, your parents. That letter was a recounting of the principles that Nana and I believed God had given us for bringing them up, as well as a few reminders of their journey from childhood to adulthood.
Nana (my dearly loved and greatly missed Lena) went to be with Jesus in 2011. Clearly, without her sacrificial and total dedication to us all as a family much of the blessing I talk about here could not have happened. God so signally blessed us through her.
In light of the continued downward moral spiral of our culture, it is on my heart to remind you all of the very important matters this letter contains. Please be assured that I pray for you and your families continually.
BACKGROUND MATTERS THAT MATTER
A lot has changed from the time when Nana and I grew up to the time when we were raising your parents. Much more has changed and more rapidly from the time they were children to the present. Since we have experienced all those changes I hope I can give some perspective to the times and temptations you are growing up with today.
One advantage (or disadvantage) I had when I wrote to your parents was that they had lived with us during their growing up years, so they could verify whether or not I was stringing them a line. Most of you, on the other hand have not lived with us at all, which has made me painfully aware that your view of us may be unduly idealistic. You haven't bumped shoulders with us enough to really get to know us.
So please be aware that we were very human and made our share of mistakes in life. We are ordinary people who tried but did not always succeed to model Jesus Christ and He by his grace and mercy has given us a godly heritage in you all.
FAITH MATTERS THAT MATTER
God has been very gracious to Nana and me and to you. In His mercy all of you have been born into Christian homes. That is, both your Mom and Dad love Jesus. Never cease to thank God for that. As far as I know, each one of you who is of age has also been born again and knows and loves Jesus. What a wonderful start you have in life, for the Bible says, "The fear (reverence or awe) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom". Prov.1:7.
The Bible says, "The fear (reverence or awe) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom". Prov.1:7.
Coupled with this reverence for God you need a reverence for and glad obedience to the Bible. It is God's infallible Word and we disobey it at our peril. We rejoice to see you walking with the Lord. Your obedience to His Word will continue to keep you from falling into the many destructive behaviors so prevalent in our society today. Be faithful in reading your Bible daily and meditating on its truths.
Before going any further I feel compelled to ask you a question that all too often is neglected in our churches today. Are you not only saved but also sold out to Jesus? Is He the Lord of your life? Can you say with the Apostle Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me”? (Gal. 2:20)
When we receive Christ as Savior the Holy Spirit comes into our lives. It is awesome to think of it but our bodies become His temple. “Be filled with the Spirit” (Eph.5:18) we are told. Are we letting Him fill us with Himself? He is the one who makes the Word of God come alive in us and also keeps us from sinning. “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:24-25)
FAMILY MATTERS THAT MATTER
Never forget no matter how old and "grown up" you think you are, to respect your Father and Mother because God gave them to you for your good. It says in Ephesians 6:1-3: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. ' Honor your father and your mother' which is the first commandment with promise, that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth". The "obey" part of this verse is more applicable when you are younger, but the "honor" part should be with you all your life.
One thing that breaks our hearts in society today even in some Christian families, is to see the disrespect with which many teenagers and even children treat their parents. I am sure this grieves the heart of our Heavenly Father as well. Your parents are not perfect (even as you are not perfect) and may not always be right, but never treat them with disrespect. They are not your "buddies", they're your parents, honor them. God will bless you.
COUNTER CULTURAL MATTERS THAT MATTER
– “Don’t let the world pour you into its mold” Rom.12:2 (Moffat)
IMAGE OR REALITY?
We live today in an age of spin and image. How you look and how you dress, are all-important -- face and figure win the day. Just scan the magazine racks. Watch the TV commercials. That is the message they are noising abroad --- image is everything! That is the devil's lie. Before God, character will triumph over image every time. Who you are inside is what counts. A passed on saying in our family is, “Beauty is as beauty does”.
This is not to say you should pay no attention to how you look. It is to say that face and figure without gracious and godly behavior are empty. And in passing let me urge you young ladies, dress modestly. Present day modes are becoming less and less modest (i.e. more and more bare flesh) and will not attract the kind of male attention a Christian young lady should desire.
All of you, as your parents before you, are blessed by having been brought up in families of modest financial means, whether on the mission field or here in North America. Never forget that! This has been, in the mercy of God, a shield against the constant pressure of our culture to accumulate more “stuff”. Relationships are the important thing, not possessions. We are to love people and use things, not love things and use people.
The Bible equates covetousness (greediness) with idolatry. (Eph. 5:5) On the other hand we have the exhortation and promise, "Let your manner of life be without covetousness and be content with such things as you have for He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you, so that we may boldly say, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What shall man do to me?'" (Heb. 13:5-6), which by the way is my life verse.
I rush to add that because I married a lovely Christian lady, of whom I have always thankfully said does not have an acquisitive bone in her body, we as a family lived contentedly with such things as we had. A giving, self-giving and contented wife and mother is a jewel of inestimable worth.
MORAL MATTERS THAT MATTER
SEX IS NOT A JOKE
Probably the most serious warning I have to pass on to you is with regard to moral purity. I am ashamed and sorry that you, my grandchildren have to live in a society where the most private, intimate and blessed relationship on earth, that between a husband and wife, has been torn out of its proper setting, within marriage, and become the butt of jokes on TV's evening "sexcoms", as I call them.
God created Adam and Eve, a man and a woman, both human, different from yet complementary to one another. Then He shared with them His creative power, that they should partner with Him in bringing new human beings into existence They became co-creators with God (Isn’t that awesome!) and nurturers, through family living, of future generations. For marriage God's ideal is that it be lifelong, to assure the continuing care and nurture of the children.
GOD’S PLAN RUINED
But, that which was meant to bless has become a curse. That which God ordained for the exclusive pleasure of husbands and wives, and the bringing forth of children to form families has become a mere recreational activity for whoever. What was meant to bind a man and woman together in a lifelong and ever-growing physical and mystical oneness has, through its misuse has ended in abuse, misery, disease and death. It is a shame to have to say it, but sex has become the god of our society.
COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE MATTERS THAT MATTER
No wonder the Apostle Paul says, "Flee sexual immorality (fornication KJV) every sin that a man (or woman) does is outside the body but he (or she) who commits sexual immorality sins against his (her) own body." (2 Cor. 6:18) My continual prayer for you all is that you will keep yourselves pure in the midst of our very impure society. My dear young people in your courting or dating please remember, in getting to know someone, talking is better than touching and a good argument with someone is more helpful in getting to really know them than the passing romantic feelings of physical closeness.
I think I need not warn you about getting serious with a young man or young woman who is not a Christian. I'm sure your parents have warned you about that, as the Bible does: "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers, for what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness and what communion has light with darkness?" Mixed marriages just do not work, God said it, I didn’t.
MARRIAGE IS FOR KEEPS
I am thankful that when Nana and I and your Mom and Dad were young people we were left in no doubt by the teaching we received at home and in church about the permanency of the marriage vows. That meant one husband, one wife, for life, so be careful in your choosing of a life partner. For a Christian, divorce was and is, unthinkable.
Don't be misled by what you see happening among Christians today. Divorce is still unthinkable. Listen to Jesus' words, "Have you not read that He who made them in the beginning made them male and female and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh?' So then they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together let not man put asunder." (Matt. 10:4-6)
THE SCOURGE OF DIVORCE
It is true that the Bible permits divorce for certain limited reasons and we need to show love and compassion to those who have experienced it. But no fault divorce has invaded the church and led to the breakdown of family life and untold suffering for the children who are its principal and innocent victims. For the love of God, for the wedding vows made before Him to "love, honor and cherish until death us do part" and for the love of your children, as much as is within your power, avoid divorce like the plague! Its results are devastating!
FUTURE MATTERS THAT MATTER
Sad to say, the future of the society into which you have been born does not look too hopeful. Unless God in His mercy brings a spiritual renewal or revival to the church in North America (Pray fervently that He will!) it looks like there will be tougher times ahead for you (and us) as believers in Jesus Christ. Society is more and more turning away from the Bible standards of moral purity, honesty and respect for authority.
The promotion of sex and violence and greed in the media is eating away at the moral fiber of our society. The pressure to legalize same sex marriage is unrelenting. Government sponsored gambling is robbing the poorest among us. Lying and cheating are on the increase in the workplace and in our public schools, as is violence. The use of foul language, even among children is becoming more common. Those who stand for the right and the good are often scoffed at. But regardless, dear ones, stand for the truth. "Be not weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not." (Gal. 6:9) and "This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith." (1 John 5:4)
Finally, shine as lights where you are. The same Jesus of whom it is said, "For God SO LOVED THE WORLD that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life", said to us "GO YE INTO ALL THE WORLD and preach the gospel to every creature". That is what we as Christians are all about. It is our joy to offer rest to the weary, hope to the hopeless and life to the dying. May those who come behind us find us faithful.
Above all, live looking – looking for His coming again.
Well, I have rambled on long enough. I hope I have been of some help and encouragement. I love you all very much and rejoice as I see you following close to Jesus – you do us proud. And of course we pray for you all the time.
May God bless and continue to help you.
P.S. Even more important than what I have written,is what the Paul says about the “last days” in 2 Tim. 3:1-5
Used with permission. Copyright © 2014 Christianity.ca.