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“Their descendants will serve him; the next generation will be told about the Lord. They will come and declare his righteousness; to a people yet to be born they will declare what he has done” (Psalm 22:30-31, Christian Standard Bible).

Have you ever wondered how far your influence will reach once you have passed from this life? Although most of us do not care to think about our death, we realize it is something that will eventually happen to all of us. What legacy will we leave for the generation to follow? Will it only be a few family photos and mementos or perhaps a bit of money? Or will it be a spiritual heritage that will affect generations far into the future?

Praying for Future Generations

I recently heard of a lady who found a letter from her great-great grandmother among some family papers. The letter contained a prayer for the writer’s son and any children to follow. The fragile piece of paper with it’s fading ink poured out this lady’s desire for her descendants to know and serve the Lord. God heard her prayers and now the fourth generation served Him. That is proactive praying.

What do I mean by proactive prayers? Many times, we respond to a situation by praying after it happens. When we pray proactively, we address things before they happen. We pray for our children’s hearts to be sensitive to God’s Spirit. We pray they will make good choices in life. We pray for their future spouses. We can cover our children and grandchildren with prayer before they are even born.

Pray and Teach

Prayer is vital, but we also need to combine it with teaching our children about God and His mighty works. Recount the miracles He has done within your family. Make God part of your family life. Talk about His goodness, love, and mercy. Remember, we are always just one generation away from losing our godly heritage. That’s what we find in Judges 2:6-15. Joshua, who had led the Israelites into the Promised Land, died. While his generation knew God for themselves, they failed to pass on that knowledge. While not explicitly stated in Scripture, it is unlikely they prayed for their children and generations to follow. Prayer could have changed the outcome.

“When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10, New King James Version).

Your prayers and your testimony will help shape the future generations. Don’t fail them. Be proactive in passing the faith to your children and beyond.

Prayer: Lord, I pray my family will always love You and serve You. Help them to follow Your will and make wise choices in life. Let me remind them each day of Your goodness and mercy and recount all the blessings You have given us as a family. I know I will eventually pass from this life, but I commit them into Your care and keeping. May the generations to come know You and then pass on the torch of truth.

 

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25, New King James Version).

A friend is struggling with forgiveness, and I’m not sure how to help her. Yes, I know the problem, but all the words I think of saying seem like I’m just repeating pat answers I’ve heard in the past. So, I’ve pulled out my Bible, started a search, and am trying to find scriptures to help her find a place of peace. Ultimately, the journey will be hers; only she can decide to forgive. Without revealing her circumstances, let’s just say what she has endured in life is what many would determine unforgivable.

Unforgivable?

I suppose the word unforgivable may be the starting point of this search. Is there ever an act so horrendous we are not required to offer forgiveness? My study took me several places: the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18:21-35; Stephen’s last words to those stoning him (Acts 7:60); the words of Jesus as He died on the cross (Luke 23:34). As difficult as it may seem, I cannot find a biblical “out” on forgiving. The degree of the offense has no bearing on our need to forgive—even to the point of death.

At first, we may feel justified to refuse forgiveness. After all, we’ve been done wrong. They don’t deserve our forgiveness. They haven’t even asked for our forgiveness—and may never ask. But eventually, “feeling good” about not forgiving may change to bitterness, anger, resentment, and a desire for revenge. When these negative emotions take up residence, peace moves out.

When considering the offenses of another, we need to realize some things. First, forgiveness is not dependent upon asking to be forgiven. Also, forgiveness does not mean we condone their actions. Nor does it mean they will not have to bear the consequences of their actions. It may or may not lead to reconciliation, and we may or may not learn to trust them again.

Who Forgiveness Changes

Forgiveness may never change the one who hurt you, but it will change you. It will release you from the chains of the past and free you to move into the present. You will find healing and peace of mind. We release the offense and the offender to God, for ultimately they are accountable to Him (Romans 12:17-21).

Mark 11:25 begins with the words “whenever you stand praying.” Before we approach God, we need to be clear with our fellowman. We must offer forgiveness to each other to receive forgiveness from Him (Matthew 6:15; Ephesians 4:32). Forgiveness is not an easy journey, but it is one well worth taking. Your well being depends on it.

Prayer: Lord, help me to be forgiving to others even when their actions have caused me disappointment and pain. Take all resentment and bitterness from me and keep me from a desire for revenge for the wrongs done me. You were able to offer forgiveness even when enduring the agony of the cross. Help me to have that same forgiving spirit in my life.

“Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8, New English Translation).

 

In conversation, when the story is rather complicated or involved, the person relating the event will often say, “To make a long story short.” In other words, they are going to give us the abbreviated version. Romans 13:8 is the “short version” of the Ten Commandments. The law can be summed up in one sentence . . . actually, in just one word: love.

Loving My Neighbor

Verses 9 and 10 go on to explain” “For the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet,’ (and if there is any other commandment) are summed up in this, ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (NET). When reading these verses, we understand that our neighbor is everyone, not just those who live nearby or those of our own social class or ethnicity.

Can we obey the law without loving? Yes, we can, but it’s just a perfunctory following of rules. We aren’t investing ourselves in the lives of others. When we are motivated by love, it is done without reserve, freely from the heart. Love comes from the inside and shows in our outward actions. It is an expression of God’s love flowing through us to those around us. Because the pure love of the Spirit controls our lives, we love others intensely and do them no wrong.

The Love Test

Yes, the world would be a better place if everyone followed the Ten Commandments, but the world would be even better if all our actions and words were motivated by pure love. Stop a moment to take the Love Test to see how you measure up. You can find it in I Corinthians 13.

Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up.

It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful.

It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth.

It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

(I Corinthians 13:4-7, NET)

Prayer: Lord, help me to live my life as a channel of Your love to others. I don’t want to just be a rule follower; I want to respond to others with love—the self-sacrificing love You demonstrated to us as our Savior. Let all my actions and words build up others and do them no harm.