Generations of Grace
I had the opportunity to speak at the mother/daughter tea at my church this month. The theme was Generations of Grace. I thought about family trees, and how they’re all different. Some have lots of branches, some only a few. Some have branches grafted in through adoption or marriage. But each are special, and create a unique group of generations.
For those of us who believe in Jesus, we have a second family tree. Galatians 4:4-6 says, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”‘ We have been adopted into God’s family tree. I think of this as the Family Tree of Grace, because according to Ephesians 2:8, it is by grace we have been saved. The only reason we’re in this family tree is because of God’s grace.
Within this Family Tree of Grace, we still have generations. Every single person who has ever believed in Jesus as Savior is part of this tree. So we have generations who have gone before us, generations who are currently with us, and generations yet to come. In the present, we multiple generations as well for there are Christians who are older, and mature in the faith, as well as baby Christians who are still feeding on the spiritual milk. Titus 2:3-5 tells us that the older women are to teach the younger women. It says, “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 to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” The older generations should be pouring into the younger generations, strengthening them in the faith, encouraging them, helping them to grow so that they can in turn do the same for the next generations helping our family tree to be healthy and vibrant.
As I thought about the older generations teaching the younger, I thought about the women who had poured into me. The first person that came to mind was my grandma. She was a pastor’s wife for many years and she taught me to be a servant. I watched as she taught Sunday School, led Bible studies, taught at retreats, spoke at showers, helped in nursery, was the church secretary – and the list could go on and on. But as her granddaughter, I also saw times when she served in areas where others weren’t going to see it, ways that were not so ‘glamorous’, things that she wouldn’t get credit for on this earth. She’d scrub toilets, wash dishes, help elderly people – not to gain praise, but because she loved her Savior. In doing this she taught me that there is no service too little to do for Jesus. Or I guess another way to put it would be that I’m not too ‘big’ to do service for Jesus. Her example for this was Jesus. Think about what He did for His disciples at the last supper. He washed their feet, and although this might not seem so incredible in today’s time when we have people give us pedicures, back then that was a task reserved for the lowest servant. In a time when people wore sandals, walked almost everywhere they went on dusty streets (where animals had been), and rarely bathed, feet were disgusting, smelly, sweaty, and gross. Yet the Son of God descended from heaven and lowered Himself to be a servant. If Jesus can do that, there’s nothing below me to do for Him.
But she also taught me that there’s no service too large to do for Jesus. She was a quiet woman and speaking at events was out of her comfort zone, but she did it (and did it well by the way). She taught me that if God asks you to do a big task, He will be with you as you do it. I learned this for myself when He called me to be the VBS director. I kept arguing with Him that it was a task too big for me, that I was unqualified – and He agreed, but taught me that He didn’t want to see what I could do, but He wanted to show me what He could do through me.
My mom was the next person I thought of. She taught me to be understanding. I didn’t appreciate this as a child, because it meant that I couldn’t get away with anything. She always caught onto me. As an adult, I realize what a wonderful thing it was to have a mom who understands you. I can’t remember now what I was upset about, but I remember wanting to be alone. My mom found me, and as we began to talk, I realized that even though I felt like a whole lot of crazy that no one would understand, my mom understood my craziness. We stood close together, arms across our chests, swaying in rhythm with each other, tears coursing down our cheeks when my aunt walked in. She took one look at that insanity, and walked right back out. Why? She didn’t understand – and frankly didn’t want to. It reminded me of Hebrews 4:15-16. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Jesus understands our insanity, and because of that we can approach Him with confidence. After I realized that mom understood me, I was able to go to her with my craziness, and get support and comfort. We can do the same with Jesus.
Where my mom and I are very similar, my sister is very different. I’m very much an introvert, while she is an extrovert. Watching her I learned to be friendly. I went through a time when I had been hurt by some close friends. I decided that I would build up my walls and not let anyone else in. I had enough friends, and couldn’t risk getting hurt again. God allowed me to pout like this for a while, but eventually He told me that it was time for me to break down the walls and open myself up again. Who better to be my example, than my social butterfly sister? I was reminded again of my sister’s friendliness when I visited her in September. We visited the neighborhood park and a neighbor came over. Ashley approached her and pretty soon they were talking like old friends. By the time it was time to leave the neighbor told Ashley that her girls were welcome to play with her daughter whenever they wanted to. How did she make a friend so quickly? She was friendly.
There are many more women I could use as examples of someone pouring into my life to teach me, and help me to grow, but there wouldn’t be enough room or time for me to tell about all of them. The most important question is this: Are you a part of the Family Tree of Grace? The Bible says that we’ve all sinned, and the payment for sin is death, but God in His love and mercy sent His Son to take our punishment, die on the cross, and raise from the dead. It says that if believe this, we will be saved. It’s not dependent on anything we do. It’s all because of Him. If you haven’t believed on Him, I pray you will do that today. If you have, are you pouring into the next generation? Do you intentionally take time to teach and encourage younger women? Is your life one that will be an example for them to follow? Finally, what are you learning from one another? Take some time this week to encourage the women who have poured into you. Call them up, send them a note, thank them for what they’ve meant to you. We’re all part of this Family Tree of Grace. Let’s take time to encourage the different generations of grace so this tree will be vibrant and healthy.
“Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.”