Here’s a heart-searching exercise: Imagine that you have passed away, and the pastor presiding at your funeral asks your now-adult grandchildren to give a testimony at the funeral about the impact you had on their lives.
What will your grandchildren say at your funeral?
What do you hope they will say?
As grandparents, we want to make a difference in the lives of our grandchildren – a lasting difference – the kind of difference that will last into eternity. We want to leave a legacy not just of money or things, but a legacy of faith, love, and dependence on Jesus.
How does that happen? What would have to be true of our lives as grandparents to make a Christ-honoring, eternal impact on our grandchildren?
The Apostle Paul drew attention specifically to the powerful legacy of a godly grandmother when he wrote to his closest protégé, Timothy. In 2 Timothy 1:5, Paul reflects, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” The Apostle was clearly honoring the impact that Timothy’s godly grandmother and mother had in his life, acknowledging God’s grace at work in the transmission of a life of faith from one generation to the next.
Isn’t that the implication of Paul’s exhortation to Timothy a bit later? “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:14-15). Paul was reminding Timothy not only of the words of life he had learned as a boy growing up, but he’s also drawing Timothy’s recollection back to the people from whom Timothy had learned the gospel – including his own godly grandmother. God had used the gospel-teaching of a godly grandmother, given increased impact by her gospel-reflecting example, in shaping the life of young Timothy – a man used greatly by God in the spread of the gospel. Now, that’s a legacy worth investing in as grandparents, the legacy of a godly life example.
As we grandparents pursue Christ with gospel-motivated passion, what fruit should we be praying for in our own everyday lives – fruit that will serve as a Christ-reflecting legacy for our grandchildren? Spending some time in Titus 2 may be helpful. Here, Paul describes what the everyday life of Christians in various life situations should look like.
Let’s start with grandfathers. What God-honoring, Christ-reflecting, gospel-fueled character traits should be evident in the lives of older men? Paul says that “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.” (Titus 2:2). Rather than our grandchildren seeing us as “grumpy old men,” ranting and raving about politics, the economy, or the weather, they should grow up seeing us as steady, faithful, gracious, loving servants of the Most High God. Why give them reasons to question the effectiveness of the gospel in everyday life? Men, by God’s grace, let’s give our grandchildren a living example of the effects of God’s gospel on our everyday lives.
And, enabled by God’s grace, what kind of legacy can Christian grandmothers leave for the coming generations? Titus 2:3-4 tells us, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women.” Ladies, by God’s grace, leave a life legacy that is marked by a daily consciousness of God and his amazing mercy to you. May your life be marked by a gospel-shaped gratitude that affects not only your attitudes but your words as you pour into the coming generations the supremacy of Christ in the daily life of your family.
So, what empowers this growth of character in the lives of grandparents? Is it a matter of mere determination? “Just do it?”
After painting pictures of what the everyday lives of ordinary Christians in various life situations should look like, the Apostle Paul adds these encouraging words about God’s extraordinary gospel: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” (Titus 2:11-12).
Ordinary Christians can live extraordinary lives because they are empowered by God’s extraordinary grace.
My fellow-grandparents, our lives, the way we live everyday life, is what will leave a lasting impact on our grandchildren. That’s what they will remember, not just our words, but the way we lived everyday life. That’s what they’ll talk about at our funerals. So, let’s lean on the help of the Holy Spirit as we grandparents devote ourselves to continuing to grow in grace until that day when Christ calls us home. May our grandchildren see Christ in us, and may that leave a lasting impact on them: a legacy of life.