Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
The Generational Consequence of Repentance
v. 6 - “Then they repented and said, ‘The Lord Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve, just as he determined to do.”
A few months ago, my daughter was asking us about her great grandparents and generations before them. For many of us Malayalees born in the U.S, there are gaps in our lineage. We might be told stories of relatives who were “famous” or did “important” things, but what about everyone else? I’m often envious of my “American” friends who have pictures of relatives from the 1800’s or know incredible tales about their experiences. I love hearing stories about my great grandparents and wonder if I have similar qualities to them. How much of who I am can be attributed to them? My grandfather would always tell me that I am the mirror image of his father, even down to the way I walk. I often wonder if my passion to serve in the church is because that was a characteristic of my grandfather and father that was passed down to me. Maybe I got my temper from another great grandfather. Even within the church we hear about Achens who have a lineage of priests in the family and bishops who can trace their ancestry back to the reformers of the church.
In today’s passage, Zechariah references the people’s ancestors, but it is far from a compliment. Verse 4 begins by saying, “Do not be like your ancestors” and ends by saying, “But they did not hear or heed me, says the Lord.” The whole passage is a call for repentance from sin which can carry on for generations.
A few years ago, a study came out that said, “Poor Parenting Can Be Passed From Generation to Generation.” They found that the more adverse childhood experiences a person had, the more likely their children were to be troubled, too. The article said pediatricians are in a unique position to ask parents about their parenting styles and advise them about ways to change bad habits their own parents may have taught them. I’d imagine the difficulty is actually taking the necessary steps to change and stop the cycle that exists. However, it’s terrifying to know that if we do not make the necessary changes, generations can be affected.
I love the way this passage ends because the Jews who were listening to Zechariah’s message are reminded of their ancestor’s unfaithfulness, in addition to their own unfaithfulness and they repented. Change is not impossible but requires acknowledgment of our sin and a complete and desperate dependence on God.
As we hear God’s word, is it our practice to disregard it? Or is our response a humble acceptance of God’s demands?
Dear Lord, help us to be like the Jews who heard and promptly obeyed God’s word so that future generations are not burdened with our sins. AMEN
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
“All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” – John 6:37
Dr. Ron Jacob, Long Island MTC
Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church