What legacy are we leaving to our children and to our children’s children? 2 Kings 17:40-41 gives us a frightening glimpse of what it could be if we are not vigilant. Take in these sobering words…
2 Kings 17:40-41 – They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices.  Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did.
We can commit idolatry, even while professing the Lord. How shocking is that? Our legacy can be for good or evil, righteousness or wickedness. But make no mistake… we will leave a legacy. How are you influencing your children?
Our children tend to believe what we believe, behave the way we behave, and have the same attitudes as we. We will either draw them closer to God or drive them farther away.
Israel believed what they did and behaved how they did because the world was too much a part of them. They were called to be a set-apart (holy) people. They were to think, speak, act, and worship differently than the surrounding culture.
And yet, 2 Kings 17 is a horrific tale of the worst forms of human depravity. God’s very own people practiced everything from idolatry to child-sacrifice to everything in-between. The depths to which the children of Israel fell and became like their ambient culture is staggering.
Perhaps, however, the last two verses of Chapter 17 are the most somber of all. Even after the Lord called his children to repentance and emphasized that his love was still available to them, we read these words in verse 40…
They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices.
Then, in verse 41, we learn of the consequences that can destroy a family, a church, or a nation.
Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did.
The example of the parents and grandparents had been firmly set in place. Their legacy was playing out. It’s no wonder that James reminds us that friendship with the world is to become an enemy of God (James 4:4).
To be a holy, set apart people means that we have an allegiance to God and to God alone. It means that we must declare our loyalty to him even while dwelling in a foreign land. When we do, we pass along a godly heritage – a godly legacy – that can last for a thousand generations. Yet, when infidelity to our King is our memorial, the consequences can be perilous.
How do we let the world in our hearts and let its fallen, sinful patterns influence us? There seems to be no end to the number of books written to answer that very question. Yet, for my part, I would want us to ask at least this question: What is our goal in the raising of our children? Success? Happiness? Wealth? Status? Education? The right social connections?
If “godliness” is not our automatic, reflexive answer to that question, then perhaps the world is too much with us. Perhaps it is the world, and not our Lord, who is setting our agenda. So too, and more importantly, it’s not merely what we’re trying to pass on to our children, but who we, as parents and grandparents, essentially are. For if we talk like the world, walk like the world, and look like the world, then it may not be much of a stretch for our children and grandchildren to assume that such worldliness is how “good Christian children” should talk, walk, and look.
Is that the legacy you want to leave to those you care most about in this world?
May God turn (and keep) our hearts toward him.