What Should We Leave Our Children?
With thanks to David Arnold
By Paul Robison

 There's a poem that goes like this:
“God bless this house and those who keep it,
With the sweet oils of gladness steep it.
Endow these walls with lasting wealth,
The light of love, the glow of health.
May all the children who enjoy this fire
And then depart, glad thoughts inspire.
Grant that these parents from year to year
Shall build their happiest memories here (modified anonymous)
 
“Someone has well said: 'To train up a child in the way he should go, go that way yourself.'  ... Let's remind ourselves that we are to train our children in the way they should go, and not the way [that our culture wants them to go].  Do you ever stop to think seriously about what you will leave your children?  What will your children be like, what will they remember, where will they ultimately [be in] eternity?  These questions are far more serious than many parents ever stop to realize.  [Proverbs 1:8-9 admonishes: “My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother; for they will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck.”  Colossians 3:18-21 admonishes: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.  Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.  Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”  Your children will grow into manhood or womanhood with the reflections of home life stamped indelibly upon their hearts and character.  What will it be?  What is important? ... What do you want your children to think of you as it comes your time to quit this life?” (Arnold).
 
“Seriously, as a parent, do you want your children to remember a home where the name of God was regularly used in vain?  A home where mother and father were constantly quarreling, where the smell of alcohol was as common as the daily paper, and where mother and father wasted their substance on the filthy, health robbing, expensive habit of [illegal drugs]?  Do you want your children [and grandchildren] to remember this sort of thing as they think of home?  If this is the kind of home that your children are being brought up in, what can you expect of them as they grow into maturity” (Arnold)?
 
“Yes, the things that we leave our children are so very important. 
The things that we show by word and action to be considered of value, they too will consider valuable.  If we feel that it is good to [use a little profanity] in order to keep up with the crowd, they too are likely to feel the same way, only they may go even further.  Because of that which they have seen in their parents [and in the media], they can easily [get hooked on using profanity all the time to express themselves].  If as parents, we feel that it is sensible to smoke [or play the lottery, or deny there is truth], chances are our children will feel much the same.  Small children have been known to imitate their mother or father by playing like they were smoking cigarettes, [or by scratching their tickets or by keeping their fingers crossed], or by doing some other [sinful] thing [promoted by] or modern [American] society.  Is this what your children [or grandchildren] think when they see their parents [or grandparents]?  Let's think seriously [this morning]” (Arnold)!
 
“Sometimes parents feel that the most important thing in the life of their children is that they become popular.  This is the thing they desire most for their children, this is the thing that they choose to provide them, and there is actually no limit as to what [some] parents will do in order to assure popularity for their children.  How sad!  [How often have Hollywood movie stars risen to such heights because their parents pushed popularity?  And to continue their success as stars, they then ruined their souls through the degradation of sinful behaviors?  Parents, popularity isn't worth the condemnation of one's soul!]  That your child be popular and socially prominent is by no means the most important thing for you to provide.  Especially is this true if this popularity leads to the eventual ruin of character and reputation, which is so often the case.  Many have been the parents who have hopelessly harmed their children because they wanted them to be the most popular.  It may be nice to be important, but it is so much more important to be nice” (Arnold)!
 
“Again, providing and leaving much money is not so important. It is not nearly as important as some parents have emphasized.  Some parents have provided for every little 'whim' of their child.  In fact, many children have grown up to be nothing more than a leech on society because of the way parents have provided for them in a material sense.  It is tragic when we come to feel that the only important thing is money.  Yet our society has gone so far in emphasizing this, so that our young adults are coming to be a people who will grow up to expect high wages without work. ... The attitude that is being developed on the part of many relative to materials goods is so pathetic.  Many of our young people are so accustomed to demanding everything from their parents and getting just that, that they come [making demands on their jobs to employers].  As a direct consequence of such action on the part of parents, many young people are becoming [greedy] and have a terrible attitude toward society.  No, it is not most important that you provide for and leave your children everything they might ever desire in a material sense.  Is this as a parent what you want to leave your children?  ... In a Junior High School in one town, some students boldly staged a 'walkout' in the cafeteria because they didn't like the food they were getting.  They were proud of their actions and boasted about what they had done.  Isn't this a shame?  The food that they had been getting was good food and conducive to a properly balanced diet—even though it may not have contained all the 'goodies' to which they had been accustomed, it was food that was good for them.  But where did they get such an attitude?  Had they heard adults or their parents complain about the things that they should have been thankful for?  [We live in a land of great blessings, but how will God continue to bless us if we continue to manifest such rebellious, selfish, and ungrateful attitudes?]” (Arnold)?
 
There was a preacher who told that when he was 2 years old, his father was sent to prison and when he was 7, the authorities placed him in an orphanage.  At 19, he had a car wreck that killed a friend.  He sold drugs to raise money for his legal fee, and the law caught up to him.  He was arrested, charged with a felony, and sent to prison.  While in prison, he was converted to Christ, and after he had served his time, he eventually went into the ministry.  Years later, he sought out his father to reconcile with him, and when they got together, the conversation turned to prison life.  The preacher’s father asked, "Which prison were you in?"  The preacher told him, and his father was taken back. "I helped build that prison," he said.  He had been a welder who went from place to place building penitentiaries.  The preacher concluded, "I was in the prison my father built."  Would your children voice that same observation?
 
“What do you really want to leave your children?  This is a very serious and sobering question, and one which we should each reflect [about quite often].  As we [continue to] reflect seriously on such an important question, there are a few things that we all should want to leave our children, and then set about as our utmost goal in life to see that these things will be left for them.  This is not something that we do overnight, but something that will involve our life situations.  We will rapidly see that there are many things so much more important than fame and fortune, pleasure and popularity, and other things after which so many vainly seek” (Arnold).
 
“Do you not think that one of the most important things that you can … leave your children is the memory of a good home?  A home where God is respected and truly reverenced and where His Book is a part of your daily activities.  In the Old Testament, we read of a young man named Daniel.
Although we do not read of his parents, we are convinced that he had some of the finest parental affection and instruction.  He was taken captive and carried to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar.  Daniel was still a very young man (a teenager), and what a remarkable young man of faith!  He was determined to serve the God of heaven in the presence of [a heathen culture].  And he was absolutely unswerving in his religious conviction.  He future must have looked dark to Daniel as he stood in the midst of a strange people given completely to idolatry.  But in the midst of the gloom, a message came from the king that he had been selected as a candidate for one of the officers of the kings' court, a position of honor and glory.  His heart must have leaped with joy, but now he meets the crisis of his life.  A dinner is placed before him, and it contains meat and wine, meat of an unclean strangled beast and very strong wine, which both violate his religious training, his conscience, and the commandment of God.  If he eats and drinks, he will violate God's command, yet there is glory and honor in the king's palace.  What will he do?  What would your son or daughter do?  The decision to make between power and righteousness has been in almost everyone's path.  Daniel is yet very young.  How it thrills us to read in Daniel 1:8: 'But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank ...'  The devil was probably telling Daniel that every one would do it, or that it was the customary action, or that he was in a foreign land, and no one would ever know—but Daniel decided: “No!!”  Would you have been proud of him had he been your son or daughter?  Such is the important in life, and your son or your daughter will be able to decide 'no' to the evils presented if you will see to it that the home life is what it should be.  There is no influence on earth more powerful than that of a good home.  No greater heritage can be left by parents than that of the memory and influences of a good home.  What will the silent voices of your home say to the children even after they have left the house in which you live?  A good home is most important, and parents make it what it should be … [with lots of prayer, lots of discipline, and lots of consistency]” (Arnold)!  The apostle Paul once told Timothy that he prayed regularly for him, and then added in 2 Timothy 1:5: “when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.”  Now there is the memory of a good home!
 
“In close connection with the desire to leave our children the memory and influence of a good home should be the desire to leave them a good personal example that they can follow throughout the journey of life. 
Remember, we should never do what we do not want our children to do, and neither should we say what we do not want them to say.  The memory of the kind of lives that parents or grandparents live or have lived before them should be a continual inspiration to young people to that which is right.  Are you living the kind of life that you will be happy for your child to imitate?  Aren't you interested in leaving them an example to follow that is right and good” (Arnold)?  There was an unbeliever who often let his temper get the best of him.  He came in one night so angry that he kicked a hole in his wall.  His little daughter, seeing all this, became deathly afraid of her father.  She thought that one day he would release his violence on her.  Later, however, the man became a Christian, and he learned how to be more self-controlled. 
When the girl was 5, she told her mother that she was not afraid of daddy anymore because he had changed a lot, and she liked this Jesus that they all were learning about at the church.  Did you catch that age again?  That little girl saw the difference between a bad example from a good one didn't she?  “But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18).  Let's leave a good example.
 
“Another most important consideration as relates to that which we should leave our children is a good reputation.  Solomon said in Proverbs 22:1: 'A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.'  Far more important than material provisions is provision for a good reputation.  A good name will open doors of opportunity; a bad name inherited from parents will truly be a burden throughout life.  What could be a more practical and important inheritance?  Will the people who have known you be moved to love and respect your children because of the name [and] the reputation you leave  behind?  Or will the opposite be true?  If you cannot leave your children money or land, you can leave them that which will mean more—a respectable reputation among [others]” (Arnold)!
 
Someone else explains it this way:  “'One of the problems with families today is that the husband and wife join hands to form a family circle. 
Then a child comes along, and they place the child in the center, with the husband and wife still forming the circle.  But now everything revolves around the child.  Then a second child comes, and that child is also placed inside the circle, with the husband and wife as the circle around them.  And now everything revolves around the two children. 
As other children come along, the center becomes so big that the hands of the father and mother are pulled apart, and the family circle is broken.  You see, what we need to do is form the circle, but put Christ in the center.  Then as each child is born, it joins hands with mom and dad to make the circle bigger [around Him].  And the result is that the circle is never broken as long as Christ is the center.'  In other words, we must love Jesus more than we love anyone, even our own family.  Jesus must come first, and when that truly happens, we love our children and our families even more” (Newland quoting Ezzo).
 
“What a great task to train boys to become Christian men and girls to become Christians ladies!  When we meet a man who has become a skilled physician, we realize without much thought that he did not just happen to become a good doctor.  He was once a little boy.  And so it is with lawyers, soldiers, businessmen, pilots, mechanics, teachers, or any other field of labor.  Training is of utmost importance.  If training is important for these professions, proper religious training is far more important.  Parents should be very careful in taking advantage of every opportunity and creating situations where they can give their children proper spiritual background” (Arnold).  This summer, will you take advantage of Summer Youth Series, Barton Bible Camp, and our VBS?
“On one occasion, a high school principle was heard to say: 'You will never have to worry about that boy.  He will always do right.'  Why was he able to make such an observation about that boy?  Frankly, there were two reasons: his father and his mother; they were what they ought to be and taught him both by word and by example” (Arnold).
 
“Yes, parents leave their children with many things, without fail.  Early in life this begins and as we come in later years to look upon these that were once children but now men and women, we see the product of the imprint left by mother and father.  To some, this is very frightening, but nonetheless, so true!  Our responsibility is great!  To teach young people to want to do what they ought to do, so that  they will grow up to be adults who are free to do what they want to do, because what they want to do is what they ought to do” (Arnold)!
 
“What will you leave your children?  What is the outlook toward life your children will have?  What hope do they have for eternity?  Is yours a home where love, peace, joy, happiness, contentment, and understanding prevail?  Where your children are getting the background which will prepare them for life and eternity?  Remember, nothing could hurt children more than the memory of a broken home; a home where there was no love; where the children were endured and where the children come to think of those moments at home as moments to be dreaded rather than anticipated” (Arnold).
 
“I took a piece of plastic clay, and idly fashioned it on day.
And as my fingers pressed it still, It moved and yielded to my will.
I took a piece of living clay, and gently formed it day by day;
And molded with my power and art, a young child's soft and yielding heart.
I came again when years were gone; it was man I looked upon.
The early imprint still he wore, and I could change him never more” (author unknown).
What should we leave our children?  Don't leave them sinful behaviors.  We have enough sinful behavior modeled in our culture, let's live counter-culturally!  Don't leave them with the desire for popularity.  Let's not sell our children's souls for the world's acclaim!  Don't leave them with a focus on material goods.  Advertisers keep us hungering for more stuff, but let's show our children that there's more to living than acquiring material things.  Let's leave them with the memory of a good home, so they will be Daniels.  Let's leave the with good personal examples, so they will learn to serve Jesus.  Let's leave them with a good reputation, and help them to live up to the name Christian.  If you've realized that you're leaving your family the wrong things, why not confess that sin, and we'll pray and ask Jesus to help you to change for the better.  If you're not a Christian, you're like that family which is likely to break up.  You need Christ at the center of your life and your family's life.  Put Him at the center today by determining to get out of living sinfully, and be immersed in Jesus' name to have your sins forgiven.  Leave your family with the Lord!