Is life unfair? Do you sometimes feel bad when you compare yourself with others, and see them doing so much better? The fact of the matter is that each of us has choices in life, in the particular situation God has allowed us to be born into and in which we find ourselves, and it is not what we’ve been given that we will be held accountable for, but what we do with it. And the choices we make will, to a significant degree, impact where we find ourselves in the future.
“And put all things under His feel, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church.” (Ephesians 1:22)
Scripture tells us that Jesus existed before His human birth in Bethlehem. John 1:1-3, 14 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” When He was here on earth, Jesus told the Jews, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM,” (John 8:58b) and in Revelation 1:8 He says, “’I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End…who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’”
Yet Jesus did not choose to stay in the heavens with the Father, “but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:7-11) Hebrews 2:9 says, “Jesus…was…for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor…” He was obedient to the will of the Father, and in doing so, gave us the perfect example of submissive obedience. And because of that obedience the Father rewarded Jesus, as He also rewards our obedience. But why, when we look around us, do we see people in such varying degrees of success or failure in life?
The first part of the answer to this lies in the past—into which family God allowed you to be born into. Some families have generations who feared God and obeyed Him, resulting in wisdom and well-being, and some families have rebelled against God and been mired in the misery that accompanies that for an equally long time. In Exodus 20:5b God warns against disobedience, “For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous god, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.” This does not mean that God considers children guilty of the sins their parents commit, because Ezekiel 18:20a clearly tells us, “The son shall not bear the guilt of the father,” but it does mean that children suffer the ill effects of generational sins. A child growing up in the home of an alcoholic or abusive parent will suffer in ways children not in those situations will not. A child of financially foolish or slothful parents will not have the opportunities in life that children of diligent and wise parents will have. This is simply the cumulative effect of generations of wisdom and obedience to the Lord and His precepts, or lack of it.
The second part of the answer lies in the present—in us. Regardless of whom we were born to, we personally make choices which affect the quality of our lives, our impact in the world, and eternity. I cannot change the choices my mother or father, grandmother or grandfather, or any other ancestor made, nor does God hold me personally responsible for them. I can, however, make a decision to submit myself to His authority in this generation, whether it is the first or twenty-first generation to make that decision, and affect my future and the future of coming generations through this decision.
Much of the well-being and success we see in others is first, the absence of patterns of sinful behavior, and second, the result of wisdom, which we get in one of the same ways we avoid sin—by immersing ourselves in the study of God’s Word. Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding.” So, other than committing whole-heartedly to following Christ to the best of my ability and immersing myself in His Word, what can I do to right any wrongs present in my life which are holding me back from being everything I can be?
I can prayerfully study my family patterns to determine what the particular sins handed down to me are. Is there addiction, dishonesty, sloth? Is there infidelity or an attitude of entitlement, pride, or rebellion against authority? The list is endless, limited only by mankind’s ability to generate sinful behavior and attitudes. Yet the grace and power of God are also endless, and He is fully able to begin with this generation—with me—and turn my family line into one that is blessed by the peace and well-being of godly obedience. Exodus 20:5b was frightening, but consider the very next verse, “but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Exodus 20:6) James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” God’s heart is to bless His people, and He richly does so when we are faithful to Him, and seek the wisdom that comes from Him. May we be diligent to examine ourselves and our lives so that both we and future generations might be blessed!
Thank You that You gave a pattern of obedience to the Father for me to follow. Help me recognize any evil patterns handed down from previous generations, and help me not repeat them. Thank You that You give me the ability to do this! Amen.