"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."

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Yevet Crandell Tenney is a Christian columnist who loves American values and traditions. She writ...

Malachi 4:5-6 KVJ

When I read this scripture, I wonder what it means to turn the heart of the parents to the children and the heart of children to the parents, and what kind of a curse will the Lord send if it doesn’t happen?

Parents love their children, and children love their parents. Well, that is the way it was when I was growing up. I’m not sure that is the case today. A growing number of children are being raised by grandparents or in split households, and there are threads in society who would like to see parents’ rights stripped from the equation. Children are increasingly more rebellious and disobedient.

There has never been a greater need for parents’ hearts to turn to their children and the children’s hearts to turn to their parents. If there is need, then surely the rest of the scripture has merit. What kind of a curse is waiting for those who do not turn their hearts?


God is not waiting with bated breath to send down fire and brimstone upon His children. He is more of a loving, patient father who allows natural consequences to take their course. The natural consequences of broken family ties is selfishness, lack of compassion and the gradual hardening of the heart. With a hard heart, it is difficult to be aware of the needs and feelings of others. If your heart is hard, you feel you deserve everything without thinking of the consequences or effects on others. Despicable things can be done in the name of entitlement. Violence and lawlessness can become the norm. If not checked, after a while, a society destroys itself or becomes prey to conniving men who employ greed to bring others into bondage. What kind of a curse is that? Certainly, a devastating one, and God doesn’t even have to do the smiting.

How do we turn hearts? Is it already too late? The world has gone pretty far down the road. Have we reached the point of no return?

With God, it is never too late to turn around until our lives are frozen in the grip of “I don’t want to change, and I refuse to do it.” Remember the plight of Lucifer?

The first step to change is a heaping dose of “Want to.” We will never make changes in ourselves unless we want to change. We need to want with all of our whole soul to turn our hearts. The trouble with hard hearts is that desire does not come easy. We must recognize we have a calcified heart and want to change it. If you think you are the most important person and you are justified in your position, you don’t see a need to change.

A solution to recognizing your condition is to get on your knees and ask God to show you the condition of your heart. He will do it in His own way.

The second step is to add basketfuls of charity and sprinkle it into your life. Look for ways to serve others. Notice how it makes people feel; notice their struggles, and really listen and respond to their needs. There is no better way to soften your heart than to get outside yourself and be sensitive to those around you. Suddenly your problems fade into the background, and you realize how blessed you are. I think Mother Theresa was one of the happiest people in the world. She spent her life serving others, but you don’t have to go to another country or another state to be of service and feel charity toward others.

There are times in every family situation where charity is needed and would be appreciated. Make someone else’s bed. Pick up their clothes from the floor without a thought of, “They are such a slob! I wish they would grow up and learn to be responsible.” Instead, consider why they might be leaving clothes on the floor. Try to understand life from their point of view. Be compassionate when they give excuses. After all, they are probably using the same excuses we have taught them. It is easy to show compassion for ourselves when it comes to excuses.

Shut off your phone and look into the eyes of your children and have them close their devices and do the same. Eye contact is a wonderful teacher. Talk face to face. Ask questions. Play a game together. If you don’t know what to talk about, tell family stories.

When I was growing up, I loved to listen to the family stories my mother would tell about my grandparents. As she spoke of the people I had never met, I felt like I knew them. I understood their struggles and joys. I could see clearly how their lives had affected mine. There was a bond and connection to my parents and grandparents. Today, we don’t take time to tell stories. It is a tradition that has been replaced by the media and other time takers. If we want to turn our hearts, we must turn off, unplug and really share. That means listening and telling.

It needs to be a one-to-one, I-care-about-you conversation. Those kinds of conversations turn hearts as well as minds. Children need to know their progenitors and the history of their people. They will not know them if we don’t take time to get to know them ourselves. We can’t teach what we don’t know.

Gratitude is the gauge to test for a hard heart. It is so easy to be blind to the wonderful blessings we receive daily from God and from those around us. We are busy. We have a to-do list that goes far beyond the daylight hours we have to complete it in. We don’t have time to stop and make a list of blessings or to write a thank-you letter or even say a heartfelt prayer. We rush through life saying, “I must … I can’t … I don’t have … I will …”. Notice every one of those excuses start with “I.” Let us change that around and say, “God has given me so much, what can I do to show charity to those around me? What does my family need from me? What can I do to help?”

If we don’t acknowledge the blessings we receive, our hearts become increasingly cold and hard, and we find ourselves in the mode of “Give me more. I want this … and I want that …”. Then it turns to, “I deserve …”. Then the entitlement attitude takes over and our hearts begin incrementally calcifying.

If we want our children to turn their hearts to us and our parents, we must turn our hearts to them and show them how. We must make our relationship with our children a walk together in the garden of life. We must teach them to smell the roses and avoid the thorns. We must help them see their vital link in the human family chain of ancestors and descendants, and that human chain must continue, or the earth will truly be smitten with a curse.

God will not need to send down fire and brimstone for this kind of desolation. The consequences will follow as night follows the day. If our children are lost in the fog of changing family traditions, values and practices, the next generation will follow. No telling where they will end up. The Lord was not kidding when He commanded us to turn our hearts. He knows happiness is only found in family relationships where love abounds and hearts are knit together in bonds of charity from one generation to another.