A common desire among most parents is for their children to have a better life than they did. This is especially true of those who grew up in poor or modest circumstances but is not limited to them. Part of the strength of western civilization is the expectation of progress. We believe that through hard work and diligence society will be elevated from one generation to the next. The imagery of this upward climb is often characterized as standing on the shoulders of those who went before us.
However, not everyone works hard or diligently. Some drift through life with little ambition and with little or no success for the next generation to build upon. This attitude provides nothing for the next generation to stand upon, and worse yet, may undermine their efforts. The imagery that comes to mind in such a case is a sinkhole. With no foundation to build upon, the likelihood of progress or success is diminished.
These alternatives are significant in our physical existence, but are even more important in our spiritual pursuits. God’s plan from the beginning has been that each generation be a stepping stone for the next. His plan is succinctly stated in Deut. 6:4-9. Here Moses said, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is One! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
This is shoulder building/shoulder standing in God’s matchless wisdom. Each generation must love the Lord God with all their heart, soul, and might. Loving God in this manner means learning His will and obeying all His commands. When one generation does this, it builds the foundation upon which the next generation can stand and build. This is the first part of the plan.
The second part of the plan is to diligently teach God’s will to the next generation. Doing this instills the proper respect for Almighty God in that generation and equips them to build upon what their ancestors have accomplished. When done as God intends, each generation moves closer and closer to God and farther away from anything that would deter this progress.
Each of us must choose to obey these commands or to ignore them. However, the consequences of our choices are not just personal. The consequences can stretch far into the future and affect descendants yet unborn. One who forsakes faith in the Lord puts his soul in jeopardy, but in so doing robs his children and grandchildren of the opportunity to build their own faith. Instead of giving them shoulders to stand upon so they can grow closer to God, he leaves them in a sinkhole that could lead them to the abyss at judgment.
Therefore, we must seriously consider God’s plan as we go about our lives. Paul exhorts us to not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap (Gal. 6:9). He also exhorts us to fight the good fight, finish the course, and to keep the faith so we will receive the crown of righteousness (2 Tim. 4:7-8). We must do so for our own spiritual good, but we must do so, also, for the good of the generations that follow us. If we truly love our offspring, we must build shoulders they can stand on, so they will have the best opportunity for eternal life.