What does the Bible say about grandparents?

The Bible speaks about grandparents not only generally, but also provides specific examples of grandparents and their interactions with their grandchildren.

Proverbs 17:6 says, "Grandchildren are the crown of the aged" and Psalm 127:3 refers to "the fruit of the womb" as "a reward." So obviously, being a grandparent is meant to be a blessing. It is an honor to have raised a child who brings forth another generation of children and to have lived long enough to witness it.

With this blessing, however, come responsibilities. Proverbs 13:22 claims, "A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children." While this verse applies to material wealth, it is actually more important to leave a heritage of faith. In Exodus 10:2, God commands the Israelites to share "in the hearing of your son and of your grandson … what signs I have done … that you may know that I am the LORD." Grandparents have a responsibility to share with their grandchildren their knowledge of God and bear witness to what He has done in their own lives.

Even in the New Testament we see Paul crediting Timothy's grandmother for playing a vital role in Timothy's faith. He says, "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" (2 Timothy 1:5). Timothy's grandmother cultivated a faith first in her own daughter, but then continued by cultivating that faith in her grandson as well.

We also see grandparents in the Bible showering their grandchildren with love. When Laban's grandchildren were moving away from where he lived, he asked, "What can I do this day for these my daughters or for their children whom they have borne?" (Genesis 31:43). "Early in the morning Laban arose and kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them" (Genesis 31:55). Laban showed his affection not just for his daughters, but for his grandchildren as well.

There is another example of affection in the story of Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth. Naomi's son (Ruth's husband) died and Ruth married another relative and gave birth to a son. "Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse" (Ruth 4:16). Even though this baby was not genetically her grandson, Naomi adopted him as such and became his caregiver. Grandparenting can come in many forms and should not be limited to those who are related biologically. In this day and age of broken families and blended families, there are numerous opportunities for older generations to develop affectionate, care-giving relationships with children who need that.

Of course, grandchildren also have responsibilities in their relationship with grandparents. First Peter 5:5 says, "Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'" Here we see that all people should honor and respect older generations.

However, the Bible calls for more than just respect; it calls for seeing to the physical needs of the elderly as well. Paul exhorts, "But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household… But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Timothy 5:4, 8). Just as it is a grandparent's responsibility to impart their faith and show affection to their grandchildren, so too it is the grandchild's job to show respect and care for the physical needs of the grandparent.

God designed the grandparent/grandchild relationship to be a reciprocal one of love and care flowing from each side to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of each person. God has given us His Word that we might learn to live out His beautiful design.

Related Truth:

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