I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. ESV Exodus 20:5-6
Do you ever see your worst tendencies playing out in your kids? Why do they pick up on our greatest weaknesses, but not our greatest strengths? I have heard it said that what the parents allow in moderation the children do in excess. Could it be that my sins, left unchecked, will be multiplied in my kids? This seems to be the teaching of the verses mentioned above.
Exodus 20 lays out the ten commandments, the second of which is to not make idols that we worship and serve. The scary commentary above directly follows this command. Perhaps God knows that if the fathers engage in idolatry, the children (for three and four generations) will naturally follow in their footsteps. This truth should humble and scare us. If we as parents idolize things of the world, we can expect our children to idolize the world more so. If sports are more important than church, then we shouldn’t be surprised when our kids walk away from church. If buying a new car is more important that generous giving, then expect our kids to idolize cars. If we idolize our tv time so that we fail to spend time in God’s word, it shouldn’t surprise us when our kids never crack a Bible as well. Our children will worship what we worship (only more so), so if we worship idols, we must expect the same of them.
God does leave us with a promise…He shows steadfast love to thousands of those who keep His commandments. While our sins seem to ruin three or four generations, our righteousness (through Christ and the power of His Spirit) can impact thousands. What greater encouragement could there be to eliminate idolatry from our hearts and lives? One of the greatest drives of my spiritual formation is this determination to eliminate idolatry so my children don’t walk in my footsteps. I already see them becoming like me in so many ways (good and bad), that I must ensure idolatry is not one of them. Make this an urgent matter of prayer.