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When parents play, children pay

When I discovered I was going to be a mom, I knew that life was going to significantly change. As the pregnancy wore on and the dust eventually settled on celebrating my little one, the sobering reality of having someone to look after settled in.

With it came the unction to examine myself and the impact my life would have on my heir. Like most parents, I desired my child to have a better life than I did and prayed that he wouldn't face the battles I had in my lifetime.

After identifying generational patterns that ran in my family and bloodline, I quickly realised that many of us have been paying the price for the ignorance and arrogance of our ancestors, even if we didn't know that we were.

At this point, I understood that parenthood came with great responsibility. More than bringing a child into the world, I had now been elevated to the esteemed position of ancestor and matriarch.

I'd like to share with you today some of the areas that the Holy Spirit highlighted. If you're a parent or desire to be a parent in the future, please begin to check on these, as you prayerfully seek more direction specific to your circumstances.

1. Watch against idolatry

Exodus 20:4-5 (NIV) reveals a stiff generational penalty for idolatry.

5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,

Meditate on the implication of this verse for a minute: punishment for the sin of idolatry by a parent is visited upon your child, grandchild, great-grandchild and great-great-grandchild. Even before four other generations exist, they've already been earmarked for punishment.

However, God will show mercy to thousands of those who love Him and keeps His commandments (verse 6)

Which side would you rather your generations are found?

2. Watch against disobedience

In Joshua 7 from verses 20- 26, we see how Achan's sin of taking plunder not only cost the Israelites a war that God had already given them victory but also led to a whole clan being wiped out- including his sons and daughters.

24 Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan, son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold bar, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor.
25 Joshua said, "Why have you brought this trouble on us? The Lord will bring trouble on you today." Then all of Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them.

3. Watch against sexual impurity

2 Samuel 11 reveals the disastrous effects King David's adulterous liaison and subsequent murder of Uriah had on his lineage.

The judgment meted out on King David as per 2 Samuel 12: 11 and 12 (NIV) would bring calamity out of his household and public humiliation.

Before your very eyes, I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.'

Tamar was raped and dishonored by her step-brother Amnon (2 Samuel 13:1-22) ; Absalom ordered the murder of Amnon to avenge his sister (2 Samuel 13:23-36); Absalom slept with his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel (2 Samuel 16:20-22) and was subsequently banished as he attempted to usurp his father's throne (2 Samuel 13 and 14)

King Solomon, despite being the wisest and wealthiest man of his day, ended up in a polygamous situation with strange women who turned his heart away from Jehovah and led to the subsequent division of the Kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 11:1-10)

Could it be that because of the door opened by his parents David and Bathsheba, Solomon's life took a wrong tangent towards the end?

4. Watch what you pass down to your generations

A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children. (Proverbs 13:22 a)

In Genesis 26, from verses 3- 5, God promises to bless Isaac on account of Abraham – who obeyed God's voice and kept His commandments, statutes and laws. In verse 18, we see that Isaac re-dug the wells of water that had been dug in the days of Abraham. Even though there was strife surrounding them, the wells gave Isaac a starting point. Verses 23-25 in particular confirm that the Abrahamic covenant was indeed passed down to Isaac.

We must be intentional about leaving a good name, good character, a fear of the Lord and material inheritance so that our children don't have to start from scratch.

5. Watch your words

Death and life are in the power of the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21a KJV)

We must be careful and strategic about the words we speak to our children; especially because we have authority over them.

In 1 Chronicles 4:9, we see that from the account of Jabez that his mother named him so 'because she bore him in sorrow.' We can only imagine the life circumstances surrounding his name that forced Jabez to cry out to the God of Israel to bless him and enlarge his territory.

In Genesis 49, Jacob gathers his sons on his deathbed and spoke over them all. In verse 28, we see how he blessed everyone according to his blessing. It is these words that formed the trajectory and destinies of the 12 tribes of Israel.

6. Careful how you steward the generations

When Prophet Isaiah told King Hezekiah in 2 Kings 20:15-19 that his sons would be taken into captivity in Babylon as eunuchs, his response in verse 19 was:

Is it not good, if peace and truth be in my days?

What if he had petitioned Yahweh for mercy, as he did on account of the extension of his life? Would there have been a different outcome?

We can't afford to be selfish, careless and unbothered about the fate of our generations. Understand that as a father or mother, it's up to us to steward not just what happens in our lifetime but to pray for those yet to come.

May it be said of us, just as God said of Abraham in Genesis 18:19:

For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him."

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