By Van Yandell
Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
We can choose our friends but we cannot choose our ancestors. Obviously, the title of this article is “tongue-in-cheek.” While it is not to be taken seriously, it does make a point.
As we’ve pointed out in several publications, for many beliefs and concepts, there is little, if any, proof (absolute facts), but tremendous evidence (indications of). Hereditary factors that determine (or appear to determine) one’s physical conditions seem to follow us through the generations.
Physical traits such as one’s cardiovascular system seem to be familial. If our ancestors had heart or blood problems, we likely will also. Traits such as these tend to appear in subsequent generations.
Cancer types appear to be inherited, especially skin conditions that result in melanomas or carcinomas. Fair skin people tend to develop skin cancer more readily than people with darker skin.
Type 1 diabetes, hypertension and even life expectancy seem to also be family prone. While we cannot control our genes and chromosomes, there are other aspects of our lives we can control.
Our personal health is at the forefront of those things controllable. The Bible advises us in several scriptural references of God’s recommendations of foods for consumption or avoidance.
Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 are well known as the Biblical diet. These references consider the meats/animals safe and unsafe to eat. Jewish people have been following these guidelines determined by God for nearly four-thousand years and in many cases appear to be healthier than others.
Other scriptural references also help us determine healthy lifestyles. Genesis 1:29 tells us fruits and nuts are acceptable. In Daniel chapter one, four of the young Jewish captives of the Babylonians refused to eat the King’s (Nebuchadnezzar) meat and drink his wine.
After ten days the Eunuch observed their countenance and they appeared healthier than the others (Daniel 1:15). Eating vegetables and drinking only water was their choice and apparently a good one.
With the current use of excessive amounts of additives in food, the western world (America, Europe, Australia) has witnessed an increase in obesity and cancer. Weight loss and cancer have become big business in these capitalistic societies and show no signs of changing in the near future.
We are constantly hearing the value of physical exercise. An early morning jog or bicycle ride makes for a better day. If we can manage to discipline ourselves into a regular routine of those activities, the way we feel overall is definitely improved.
The leading scripture of this article, Proverbs 22:6, refers to the raising/training of our children. While we cannot control our ancestry, we can control what we teach our children.
It certainly appears in the world today with both parents working or many children being raised by a single parent, the parental duty of teaching children morals and certain values has gone by the wayside.
The attitude of “the school should teach my child everything he/she needs to know,” is foolish and short-sighted. The job of teaching morals and other “human race” values lies with the parents. Increases in discipline problems at school, crime, drug use, and various forms of self-mutilation verify this as fact.
We may think that the most important things we can leave our children are in the form of monetary, real estate or some type of tangible items. That is as far from the truth as anything can possibly be.
One day in the not too distant future, we will be considered someone’s ancestor. If someone twenty years old is reading this, you may think “I hope it’s distant!” but you’ll be surprised how quickly the next fifty-seven years will pass by.
What will we leave our children and grandchildren as their ancestor? While we cannot control or change what our ancestors left us, we can influence what we leave our descendants.
Whether we like it or not, we are all teachers. Someone is watching and learning from us. Recently I met one of my former students and he gave me a compliment that was very special to me. He said I inspired him. He didn’t go into detail and I was afraid to ask.
We may think lessons we teach our children are in the form of vocational, recreational (sports) or avocational skills and interests. Those are definitely true, but our habits, actions, language, attitudes and other characteristics of humanity are also passed down to them.
Sad to say, many in today’s world are teaching hatred and prejudice against other cultures, races, nationalities and even economic levels. Do we really want to teach our children these qualities?
James Naismith said “Our history begins before we are born. We represent the hereditary influences of our race, and our ancestors virtually live in us.”
When Solomon wrote Proverbs 22:6, he was definitely referring to more than religious concepts. Listed are only a few of the traits and informational types we are leaving those that will follow. We will all die and that is certain. Long after we are gone, those things we taught our children and grandchildren will live on.
Our religious beliefs are for certain at the top of the list of what we pass on to them. I have often asked congregations, “Would you prefer to believe you evolved from a monkey or that you were created by a loving merciful God with a plan for your life?”
Not asking for a verbal response or a show of hands. My assumption was most would prefer the latter. The Holy Bible teaches us that God created this world, us and the universe by His spoken word (Genesis 1:1-3).
In such a case, would we not value ourselves higher than to believe we evolved from a lower form of life? You and I are spiritual beings created by God (1 Corinthians 6:19). Evidence is abundant that substantiates the reality and authenticity of the Bible.
The science in the Bible, prophesy and the practical aspects of life taught in the scriptures are beyond the abilities of humankind to have known 2000 to 4000 years ago. My contention is and will continue to be, the Bible proves itself from within itself and those not believing it simply do not know the type of information it contains.
When we reach the classification of ancestors, what can we rest assured the future generation will have gained from us? Of all the ideas that may be passing through your mind right now there is one that should be at the top of the list. Eternal salvation is by a faith based belief that Christ Jesus died for the remission of sin and was resurrected.
A statement from Ralph Waldo Emerson is, “Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.” Some day in the future, we will be someone’s ancestor. As an ancestor, be a positive influence and the world will be a better place.
Van Yandell is a retired Industrial Arts teacher, an ordained gospel evangelist and commissioned missionary.