For many years, I have looked at the following verse as a target for my own life, leadership, and influence:
Israel served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the leaders who outlived him — those who had personally experienced all that the LORD had done for Israel. (Joshua 24:31 NLT)
I want those I love, lead, and influence to faithfully and passionately live for God! I hope that when the final chapter of my life is written that people can say that God used me to inspire others to live for him!
Yet as powerful as this description is, Joshua, Caleb, and those they drew into their circle of leadership failed in one crucial area: their faithfulness, their experience of God, their physical and spiritual vitality was not passed on to future generations. When this circle of faithful leaders passed from the scene, God's people enter one of the darkest eras of Israel's history — a period of repeated moral failure called the period of the Judges.
This observation should stir and humble each of us. In an era where patience is considered a weakness rather than a virtue and urgency dominates our every plan and perspective, we must hear the warning of Israel's history — even if it casts a shadow on some of our greatest heroes! We must live for more than just our own time.
The apostle Paul knew the heart of this issue. He urged his "son in the faith," Timothy, to do the following:
Timothy, my dear son, be strong with the special favor God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach many things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Teach these great truths to trustworthy people who are able to pass them on to others. (2 Timothy 2:1-2)
Paul heard the message of Israel's past. While he lived with passion and urgency in the present, he also lived intentionally to pass along faith into the future "generationally."
- me (Paul)
- you(Timothy) and many witnesses
- reliable witnesses
This generational approach to faith is not new to Paul. It was recognized throughout the Old Testament. (Genesis 50:23; Exodus 20:5-6; Exodus 34:1-7; Numbers 14:18-19; 2 Kings 10:30; Job 42:16-17)
To put the principle into good ol' cornbread English, we are being challenged to live our faith so that our grandchildren's children have faith! That means we live with passion and urgency for today, but we also live intentionally to pass our faith along into the future "generationally."