Each of us is in the middle of the generations—a chain of eternal family that wants to be together forever. The choices we make today can either break or build that chain. What we do in this life affects generations before and after us.
Generations before us
One of the greatest responsibilities that the Lord has laid upon us is to seek after our dead and perform saving ordinances for them. Prophets are stressing the importance of this work because “they without us should not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:40) and “neither can we without our dead be made perfect” (D&C 128:15). If we choose to do family history work, we are linking our families together forever. Those who have gone before us who did not get the chance to receive the gospel need us to perform the saving ordinances for them. It is only through us that they will be given the chance to be baptized and sealed to us as a family. Those who have gone before us reside in the spirit world where they have the chance to hear the gospel. Although they can accept it, they cannot progress until the saving ordinances of the gospel are performed for them in mortality. Thousands of years have passed since the world began and many of our ancestors have been waiting, some perhaps for centuries, for the temple ordinances to be done for them. So we simply cannot afford to sit comfortably while they wait for their deliverance.
Of course we can perform ordinances for others whose names are already available in the temple but it’s no substitute for what we have to do—to seek our own dead and perform saving ordinances for them.
Generations after us
As we seek our dead, we must also spend time seeking after those who are still living. The work of sealing families together is not only about “turn[ing] the heart of the children to their fathers” which means sealing our dead to us, but also about “turn[ing] the heart of the fathers to the children,” which means sealing generations after us in our family chain (Malachi 4:5–6). It is also our responsibility to teach our children the gospel of Jesus Christ, pass on our beliefs and share our faith—teachings, beliefs and faith that they will pass on to their children, and on to future generations after that.
One of the most important principles that we can pass on to our posterity is the love that we have for family history work. The work that we do now for this great cause can immensely affect how our children view family history work. Introducing and involving them early in this work will help them understand the value of sealing families together for eternity and will increase their love for their forefathers. And the blessings that we receive through our obedience to this commandment will extend not only to our children but stretch to include all the generations after us.
The hours and effort that we put into finding our dead and teaching our children the gospel of Jesus Christ not only build but also strengthen the eternal chain of our families. When we fail to do these things, we are breaking the chain. The choice is ours, so what will we choose?