Today’s devotion from Ezekiel 18. As a father, I find myself cringing....a lot. Not necessarily at my kids, though there are enough examples of their own cringeworthy events. Really, what I struggle with is when I lose my cool, when I yell, when I say something less than encourage it, when I say ‘no’ selfishly, when I say ‘yes’ thoughtlessly. I cringe not just because I made a mistake, but I might have made a mistake that will revisit my family in the next generation, and maybe the next, and maybe the next.
Imagine how that guilt or shame would be multiplied if those mistakes weren’t just the temporal sort. Imagine that I might carry the guilt of having caused my children further separation from God than that caused by their own sins. What if they had to carry the weight of my sins too? What heartache would that cause in my life? What pain? What suffering?
Now, imagine the next generation flippantly excusing their sinful rebellion by blaming it on their parents, “The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”
God had enough. He spoke to the prophet, and said, “The person who sins is the one who will die. A son won’t suffer punishment for the father’s iniquity, and a father won’t suffer punishment for the son’s iniquity. The righteousness of the righteous person will be on him, and the wickedness of the wicked person will be on him.” (Ezekiel 18:20, CSB)
Do you hear what God is saying? You are not condemned because of what your father or mother has done. Maybe they were good people. Maybe they were terrible people. It doesn’t matter. Their sins are their own just as your’s belong to you alone.
Or, maybe you’re like me? Maybe you don’t want your children to carry your mistakes forward? Believe the Word of God. They will not be condemned for your sins.
For better or worse, one day you will catch yourself saying something like your father or acting like your mother, but their sins are not yours. And, one day, when you see your son with mannerisms like your father’s, you don’t have to worry that God will be punishing him for the mistakes of those that came before him.