Marriage and the Family (9): Grandparents

The expression, “children’s children,” refers to grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They must not be regarded as merely the harbingers of old age, but rather as a blessing from the Lord. There are three good reasons for being thankful for grandchildren: first, there is the goodness of God in preserving sons and daughters to reach the age of parenthood; second, the joy of having grandchildren in the family; third, the hopeful anticipation that the child being born will grow to love the Lord and serve Him.

Note five things that ought to mark grandparents in their dealings with the young.

First, Children’s children are the crown of old men (Prov 17:6)

First, value them! “Children are a blessing from God” (Psa 127-128); thus, a family circle consisting of children and grandchildren (including great-grandchildren) is as a “crown of glory surrounding the grey-haired” (Keil & Delitzsch). How delightful it is to think of grandchildren in this way. They must not be regarded as an intrusion in one’s life, but rather, a blessed enriching gift from God. Although the responsibility for the development of the children lies with the parents, there is much that grandparents can do to assist.

“They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing” (Psa 92:14).

Second, show mature godliness in your dealings with them! The psalmist declares that “Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God” (Psa 92:13). Their roots have been in the sanctuary and because of that they have flourished and produced fruit that is spiritually rich. This ought to be the hallmark of full years. Those who have so lived are well suited to pass on to grandchildren what they have been taught in the presence of God.

“The unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and in thy mother Eunice” (2Tim 1:5).

Third, use opportunities to teach them. The apostle writes of “unfeigned faith,” that which was seen to be genuine and sincere; such was the faith of Lois and Eunice. There is no mention of Timothy’s father or grandfather, but the example of his grandmother and mother was of great value. Part of this was teaching Timothy the “holy Scriptures” (2Tim 3:15), a vital necessity in dealing with the young. Such an example will leave them impressions of calm godly living to be remembered even should the seed sown bear no fruit until their grandparents are with the Lord.

I have been young, and now am old (Psa 37:25)

Fourth, share your experiences of God’s faithfulness. When David wrote these words he was an old man. As he looked back over the years he was able to declare from Psalm 37 that he had “not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” Spiritual grandparents will have proved David’s words to be accurate in their own lives and in the lives of others. Today, financial pressures, the cost of rearing children, and employment or business issues may press down on believers so much that they feel it necessary to consider changes to their family life which are not spiritually helpful. The cost of faithfulness may appear to be folly. So, what do grandparents have? The answer is that they have the experience of years of seeking to be faithful to the Lord and of giving to Him. As a result, they have seen God at work in keeping His promise. They know that seeking to live righteously and giving of their time and substance to the Lord guarantees, not that we will be rich but, that we will have needs met.

Tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son’s son, what things I have wrought (Exo 10:2) 

Fifth, speak to them about the greatness of God. There may be members of the family who are making progress in the things of the Lord, but others may be falling behind or have never professed faith in the Lord Jesus. Encourage them all to be in your company, and display what it is to be a Christian. Show by example that salvation is very real and that, far from missing much, the long years have been enriched.

Ensure also that they are the constant object of your prayers and do not omit telling them. Keep praying. There was no limit to the time spent by the father watching out for his son (Luke 15:20). There are believers today who sat on the knees of their grandparents and were, in later life, helped by their example and by what they taught them.

Grandparents may feel at times that they no longer have any influence over grandchildren. They speak a different language, are interested in what older people may not fully understand, and have problems that were unknown to earlier generations. Remember that much of what youngsters are taught from the Scriptures they have not yet experienced; but grandparents have. When the opportunity allows, you can tell them how the Word of God worked out in practice, how it never let you down. You can tell how God kept His promises. Don’t give up; keep in touch; continue with a godly testimony and pray daily.

Each generation behaves and thinks differently from those of the past. Grandparents, and even parents, at times find this difficult to handle. In dealing with the young, it is necessary, first of all, to keep bearing up all of the family in prayer. There is much in the world today that is designed to capture their interests and draw them away from the Word of God. Keep praying! Second, at times it may demand much patience and grandparents will be cast upon the “God of patience” (Rom 15:5). Third, their presence: if it is possible to be with the young, their presence with you will leave impressions in youthful hearts and minds that will never be lost.