December 2006

I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the families of the earth will be blessed through you.
—Genesis 12:3, NLT

What do you do with a family whose genealogy goes back 4,000 years, whose national roots reflect 2,000 years of history? The answer is, study and learn from them.

That's exactly what we've been doing with God's covenant family, the Jews. Today they're strong in the earth. Why? Because family principles have preserved them.

One of the main principles Jewish families are built upon is a system of moral codes and values. This is an extremely important principle in keeping the family strong and healthy.

The Jews based their standards of right and wrong on revelation from God. He introduced the standards when He gave them the law (the Ten Commandments) through Moses. The law was based on absolute truth—meaning certain things are always right or wrong for all people, at all times and in all places.

It was with this standard that the Jews raised their children.

They also built their families on the principles of heritage and legacy. Rare is the Jew who doesn't have an understanding of and appreciation for the history of his people and who doesn't know the stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Unfortunately, many of our kids today would be hard-pressed to know the names of their uncles, aunts and distant relatives. This is largely due to the break up of the family structure that has resulted from emotional and geographical separation. We are rapidly losing the building block of heritage in the American family.

Several things can happen when heritage and legacy are missing. First, when you lose an appreciation for family history and heritage, you have a tendency to repeat the mistakes of previous generations.

Second, progress in personal development is much slower. Because each generation stands on the shoulders of the previous one, heritage and legacy thrust one to the forefront of life's learning curve. It causes families and individuals to move ahead exponentially.

In light of these truths, ask yourself: Does my family understand legacy and heritage? Is it built upon strong moral codes and values? Do I practice these principles?

Your kids will be much further ahead if you do. So give them a head start in life and begin putting these principles into practice today.

John Chasteen is the assistant dean of Southwestern Christian University Graduate School in Bethany, Oklahoma.

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