By Olen Holderby
Young people of today live in an age of uncertainty. Turmoil in the world has destroyed from see minds of many youth, the desire to plan for the future, to set goals for happiness and success. There is an old adage which says, “That which man wants most is that of which he has been deprived.” Whatever degree of accuracy we attach to this adage, it apparently is true of most people in the world today. In fact, with many, it seems that the goal is simply to adjust themselves to the idea that not anything is really worth much, that success is being able to adjust one’s self to the status quo. And, this is adjudged to be happiness. May I kindly suggest that if you are walking in this path, you not only have a problem, but you are multiplying your problems. And, my young friends, these problems will, sooner or later, arise to haunt you — night and day!
There is a solution! Out of the turmoil and frustration of the present can come some real happiness and may make life worth living to the fullest – not because of the turmoil, but in spite of it! There are many areas that could be explored in this context, but I wish to develop only one point for your consideration.
I am speaking not just of unselfishness with those among whom you live now, but unselfishness to your posterity. This is made necessary because of the tendency, especially among the young, to “live just for today.” To “live it up” for here and now is presently the focus of much attention. This kind of thinking is basically selfish. And, this deprives our posterity of sharing in the good things which we have and forces upon them the bad. It is difficult for us to think of, and work for, a time when we shall no longer live. If we cannot personally experience it, we think it is of no value to us. We seem to have largely forgotten the debt we owe to our ancestors; therefore, we give little or no thought to what our posterity may receive from us.
From the Roman historian Levy, I give the following quote, “Barcas, father of Hannibal, took his son at the age of nine to the pagan altar and there the child (Hannibal), at that tender age, swore eternal hatred to the Romans.” Barcas knew little about the principles embraced by Christianity; nor did he expect to live to see Rome destroyed. However, there is one thing Barcas did that many Christians never do – he established an ideal for his posterity! This is exactly what I am suggesting to you – establish an ideal for your posterity! Leave something to your posterity from which they may profit, really profit. Many are ready to ask –
What Can I Give To My Posterity?
To answer this question we shall draw from two sources, biblical and historical. “I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, showing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the words of God, but keep his commandments: and might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God” (Psa. 78:2-8). We cannot overlook the ideal expressed here, “That they might set their hope in God.” We take our historical, quote from Patrick Henry, as he made his last will and testament, “I have now disposed of all my property to my family. There is one thing more I wish I could give them, and that is the Christian religion. If they had that and I had not given them one shilling, they would have been rich; and if they had not that, and I have given them all the world, they would be poor. ” From these we can easily see that we, at least, should leave to our posterity a heritage rich in the religion of Jesus Christ. To think differently is to admit (though we may resent it) our own faulty concept of happiness and success.
In discussing the material things which we may leave to our posterity, Solomon said, “This also is vanity and a great evil” (Eccl. 2:19-20). This was true, of course, because of the great uncertainty of how such things would be used. All know that a man must care for his own (1 Tim. 5:8); but there comes a time, out there somewhere, when our children must accept the responsibility of their own care, and no longer depend upon their parents. But, while they are under parental care, the parents possess an awesome responsibility. Look at Hosea 4:6, “. . . seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” Think of this, rejected of God and deprived of heaven! Why? Read the passage again. The parents have ignored the law of God to them, leaving to their posterity little hope of God’s favor. Do we see our chores for today? Many of you to whom I speak are young parents; many more will soon be young parents. What shall you give to your posterity? Will it be an ideal of hopelessness, live for today, forget about others, especially the future? From what has been said, we may easily see the unselfish service we are to render to our posterity. Give them an untarnished faith in God and His Word, give them unblemished examples of parents whose greatest desire is to please God, give them a real and an abiding hope in something better than, and beyond, this life. You will, thusly, leave them rich! “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them” (Rev. 14:13). But, let us go further.
About Our Forefathers
Some of them fled religious intolerance to an uncertain and unknown land. As they left the lands of their births there appeared to be only one thing certain with them – their faith and trust in the guiding power of the word of God. They established schools. The Bible became the first reader, the second reader, and the third reader. Children thus taught were to become leaders of a great nation, patriots who were to become the authors of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the Untied States. These fathers had given to their children a heritage that equipped them with the means of real success – a familiarity with and respect for the commands of God. In view of all this, if you can see why some wish to remove God from national affairs, you have better insight than I have. We must instill in our posterity the same attitude towards God’s Word that those Pilgrims must have had when they started across the Atlantic, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psa. 119:105). Any departure from this lofty idea is a departure from the design of our forefathers, and is a departure from the whole God-assigned duty of man (Eccl. 12:13).
It Won’t Be Easy
To live this unselfish life, planning for a time when you no longer live, you are faced with a momentous problem. If this problem was not solvable, I would not be suggesting that you even try. In many of our public schools, especially in the higher realms of education, the professors never pass an opportunity to slur or to belittle the Bible. They are trying for a total eclipse of the student’s faith in the God of the Bible; and their effort is, like Satan’s, an unrelenting effort. “Professing themselves to be wise they became fools” (Rom. 1:22). They aim at shame in the student; but Romans 1:16 is still true, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” If our children can see that Christianity is intelligent, workable, practical, and enjoyable, they will the tools to combat that “fiery darts of the wicked” (Eph. 6:16). And, it is our own unselfish efforts that can give to our posterity these value qualities. It is my challenge; it is your challenge! Will we accept this challenge? May heave help us to see it, and may we have the strength and courage to do it!
Young people, I ask you a question, “Shall the religion of Jesus Christ perish from the earth? Shall the church for which Jesus died (Acts 20:28) cease to exist? Shall that system of faith based solely upon the gospel of Jesus Christ bid the world farewell?” You may ask, “Do I need to answer that? What is it to me?” Indeed you must answer it, and it is everything to you! Do you not realize that all these things will soon rest in young hands?
A few years ago a speaker walked to the stage to speak to the student body of the University of Arizona. He began by saying, “Ye are the salt of the earth.” I shall not, here, say that to you, for it may or may not be true. A great deal depends upon what you are inside and in what determination you have for the future. I do, however, challenge you to think of the future of the church, that institution that was purchased with the blood that flowed from Calvary. The future of that church is, or soon will be, in your hands. How will it fare?
Young people, grow up with a faith in the Bible (and its God), a faith that all the powers of hell cannot shake; when the time comes, instill that faith in your posterity; and, after you are long gone, you will still be thought of as a great man or a great woman. Christianity is a proper goal, a reasonable way of life. Such will bring greater happiness here; and it is the only path from earth to heaven! I am confident that Solomon had all this in mind when he said, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth” (Eccl. 12:1). God bless you; and, I thank you!
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 10, pp. 307, 312
May 16, 1985