The Most Valuable Legacy There Is
IN THE twilight of his life, the aged apostle John wrote: “No greater cause for thankfulness do I have than these things, that I should be hearing that my children go on walking in the truth.”—3 John 4.
The faithful apostle was referring to his children in a spiritual sense. However, many parents would echo the apostle’s words. They have worked hard to raise their children “in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah,” and now they rejoice to see their grown children “walking in the truth.” (Ephesians 6:4) In fact, teaching one’s children the way to eternal life is to give them the most valuable legacy there is. That is because godly devotion, which includes living life as Jehovah wants Christians to live it, “holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.”—1 Timothy 4:8.
Jehovah, the perfect Father, greatly esteems godly parents who try hard to educate their children spiritually. When the children respond, they find great joy in pursuing true worship together with their parents. As such children mature, they store up pleasant memories of such experiences. Some happily recall the first time that they participated in the Theocratic Ministry School.a Or perhaps they think of the time when they were first able to read a Bible text in the house-to-house ministry alongside one of their parents. How can they forget hearing their parents read from My Book of Bible Stories or from Listening to the Great Teacher?b Gabriel recalls something that he came to love: “When I was only four years old, my mother sang to me every day while she was cooking. I still remember with deep feeling a certain Kingdom song. Later on, it helped me to see the importance of Jehovah’s service.” Perhaps you too remember the beautiful song that Gabriel refers to. It is number 157 in the songbook Sing Praises to Jehovah, and it is entitled “Worship Jehovah During Youth.”
The song begins: “Out of the mouth of babes God once brought praise;/They, to hail Jesus, their voices did raise.” Indeed, there were children who had the privilege of associating with Jesus, and they likely delighted him with their refreshing, candid manner. Jesus even used the teachableness of young children as an example for his followers to copy. (Matthew 18:3, 4) So children have an appropriate place in the worship of Jehovah. In fact, the lyrics of the song continue: “Yes, even babes can their God magnify.”
Through their exemplary conduct—at home, at school, and in other places—many children have brought honor to God and to their family. What a blessing it has been for them to have “Christian parents who love what is true.” (Deuteronomy 6:7) Godly parents take their stand for God, who as a loving Father, teaches his creatures to walk in the path in which they should tread. And what a blessing they receive! As they, in turn, teach young ones in their family, how thrilled they are to have children who “obey them and bring them delight”! (Isaiah 48:17, 18) Angélica, who at present serves in the Mexico branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses, says: “My parents always made an effort to put Bible principles into practice. That made my childhood very pleasant. I was happy.”
Such Christians agree that it is worthwhile to take good care of your spiritual heritage. Perhaps you are a youth who is being brought up in a family with true Christian values. If so, that same song exhorts you: “O Christian youths, strive to keep your way clean.” The time will come for you to make your own decisions, so now “learn while you’re young on Jehovah to lean./But to be popular never do toil.”
If you mistakenly put popularity first in your life, all the training you receive could be in vain and you could ruin your prospects for the future. The desire to be popular can lead to letting your guard down. Some have ended up associating with those who, while seemingly inoffensive, even attractive, have no interest in Christian standards. That was illustrated with Tara, a leading character depicted in the video Young People Ask—How Can I Make Real Friends? Like Tara, any young Christian who associates with those who do not value true worship will discover that sooner or later “bad companions good habits will spoil,” as the song says. It takes years of effort to develop good habits, but they can quickly be spoiled.
Admittedly, the way of godly fear is not easy. Still, as the song goes on to say, “if you remember your God in your youth,/And serve Jehovah in spirit and truth,” you will build a solid foundation for real success. And “as you grow older more joy you will know.” You will come to appreciate even more that under Jehovah’s loving care, nothing can stop you from doing what is right in his eyes. That is the way to become a mature, godly adult. More than that, wisely taking advantage of a Christian upbringing gives you the opportunity to “make God’s own heart with gladness to glow.” What greater privilege could a human have?—Proverbs 27:11.
Therefore, youths, always remember how valuable the training from Jehovah and your Christian parents is. May their great love for you move you to do what is pleasing in Jehovah’s sight. Like Jesus Christ and faithful young Timothy, you will make your heavenly Father and your earthly parents happy. And if you ever become a parent yourself, you will probably agree with Angélica, mentioned earlier, who says: “If I ever have a child, I will try very hard to put love for Jehovah into his heart from infancy, to make that his guiding light.” Certainly, the upright path that leads to eternal life is the most valuable legacy there is!
a This part of the Bible education program conducted in congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses is open to young and old.
b The publications mentioned are published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.