Loving God (9)
I will make Your name to be remembered in all generations;
Therefore the people shall praise You forever and ever. Psalm 45.17
Perhaps we all have things in our lives which have come down to us from previous generations. A precious keepsake? A cherished watch? A saying or timely quip (my dad used to say about his boys, when they did something right in a sporting event: “Well, a blind hog’ll find a ripe acorn every now and then.” I say it to this day!)?
Doubtless, too, you have some favorite things you would like to pass on to the generations that succeed you. A great book. An old car. An appreciation of winter. Some songs or forms of music. Maybe a piece of jewelry or a beloved work of art that has been passed down to you.
We want those we love to enjoy the things we love. So we tell them our favorite stories, read them our favorite books, sing songs we learned in childhood, help them understand the glories of classical music or traditional hymnody, share our favorite poems.
We do this, as has been done for us, because we love our children and grandchildren, and we want them to share in the things we love most. And when we love God most of all, and rejoice to be in His Presence and Word, to delight in His great salvation, to glory in His works, and to look forward eagerly to His coming again in power – when we love God in all these ways, we will want to pass on praise and love for God to the generations that come after us, whether they are in our family or simply among that rising generation which will succeed us on this planet.
We love God by loving to see those who will come after us loving and praising Him as well. How can we grow in this expression of love, so that the Name of the Lord will be remembered, loved, and praised in the generations that succeed us? Let me briefly mention five ways.
Worship is infectious – alas, for good or ill. If in our worship we are bored, dour, distracted, and not quite with it; if we grumble about this or that aspect of worship; or if our focus in worship is on ourselves and what we think worship should do for us, that attitude will be communicated to other worshipers, including some in the generation that will succeed us.
But if we worship in Spirit and in truth (Jn. 4.24), having prepared well, keeping our focus on Jesus Christ in His exalted glory; if we bear in mind that worship is what we’re made for and where we find our most complete and satisfying purpose in life; if in the Presence of God we are humble and joyful; and if we worship wholeheartedly when we are assembled for worship, and throughout each day as living sacrifices, this is the attitude toward worship we will convey to the generation to come.
All Christians are called to teach and make disciples (Heb. 5.12; Col. 3.16; Matt. 28.18-20). Those who received the Law of God from the hand of Moses were instructed to teach their children, formally and informally, to love God by loving Him according to His Word (Deut. 6.1-9). That mandate continues in the New Testament (Eph. 6.1-4).
God has bestowed on us a great legacy of saving words and sovereign works. We who love His Word and works must take care to help the rising generation do so as well (Ps. 78.1-8). Just as we teach our children to take responsibility for their things, use good table manners, speak clearly, do their homework, and assorted other matters, so we must not fail to teach them how to praise and thank God. By praying for them and with them, leading them into the Word of God, teaching them great songs of the faith, and helping them take their place in the community of believers, we can help many in the generation that succeeds us to praise God and live for Him, as we have sought to do.
And by making the most of every opportunity to share, teach, and encourage our fellow believers, we increase the likelihood that praise to God will spread among our fellow believers, and through them to the rising generation.
The work of evangelism also provides opportunities to extend the praises of God to the next generation (Acts 1.8). Proclaiming the Good News of Christ and His Kingdom is every believer’s responsibility. That doesn’t mean that we all become preachers; rather, we all have a Personal Mission Field in which to show Jesus and tell His story to the people around us. By building relationships with others, getting to know them, praying for them, serving them with good works, and letting them get to know us, we can create opportunities and pathways along which the Good News of Jesus can travel little by little.
The Gospel is the greatest reason we have to praise God, as we have seen. And we do praise Him for Jesus and His saving work, day by day. Others will do so as well if we can help them understand the Good News and lead the way for Jesus to open their hearts and minds to His love. We must be faithful to work the ground of our Personal Mission Field and sow the good seed of the Kingdom by words and deeds, as often as we can. The Spirit of God will do the rest. It’s not our job to lead anybody to Christ. Our calling is to make the Good News known; God will do what He pleases each time His Word is sown in the hearing of others (Is. 55.10, 11).
Similarly, we should support the work of missions, through our church, by our own giving, and, as the Lord leads, taking part in missions activities and endeavors (3 Jn. 1.5-8). Praying for and supporting missionaries, staying in touch with them, encouraging and praying for them, and learning about God’s work through them, can help to ensure that, in places we never may visit, the praise of God will reach to many, in this generation and for the generations to come.
Finally, bring all these activities together into a legacy, a life and works of praise and honor to God, that can benefit others now, and have staying power and lasting effects into the generations to come (Ps. 45.17). Let this be your vision. Let a legacy of praise to God inform your prayers, guide your daily planning, shape the good works you do each day, and be the focus of your prayers as you retire each night.
Let your legacy be one of loving God with all your soul and strength, and your neighbor as yourself. Be a living sacrifice of praise to God in all you do, and you will pass His praise – and heartfelt love for Him – to many in the generation to come.
1. Why should believers care about the kind of legacy they leave? Who are the people who will be affected by your legacy?
2. What are you doing at this time to ensure that your legacy includes praise to God among the rising generation?
3. What opportunities does your church afford for you to help the rising generation learn to praise God?
Next steps – Preparation: Spend time with the Lord in prayer, asking Him to give you a vision and understanding of the legacy He wants you to leave to the next generation. Work on preparing that legacy day after day.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.