Friday, August 31, 2018
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As each of our kids has fallen in love, I have had what sounded like maybe strange advice for them. I've said, "Make sure you make a good 200-year choice." Now, needless to say, that's been greeted with an expression that says, "You doin' okay, Dad?" It turns out none of our kids expects to ever celebrate their 200th wedding anniversary. But that's not what I'm talking about anyway. I'm talking about the impact the choice of a mate will have for a long, long time – along with a lot of other family choices.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Marking Generations."
When you're deciding who you're going to marry, you're actually deciding who's going to shape your children, and who will in turn, shape their children with what they got from you and your spouse, and who will, in turn – well, you get the idea. It is that downstream effect of our family choices that God spells out graphically in Exodus 20:5-6, our word for today from the Word of God.
Right in the middle of the Ten Commandments, God says, "I am the Lord your God,...punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments."
The consequences of a family's unrighteous choices will be marking apparently at least four generations. The blessings of a family's righteous choices will be marking countless generations. If we could do a little like "Back to the Future" time travel to see those who came before us, I think we'd understand strengths and weaknesses, blessings and struggles that are alive and well in our own family today, years later. But that's all history. The issue for you and me is what kind of heritage are we starting in motion through our choices today? Those marks – for better or worse – will be there long after we're gone.
This generation-marking phenomenon is dramatically illustrated in a study of the descendants of two American families. Family One – which, for obvious reasons shall remain nameless – is traced back to a criminal ancestor. Out of 1200 of his descendants, 400 wrecked themselves physically through drugs, drinking, or sexual diseases; 310 were beggars; 130 convicted criminals; 60 of them were thieves; 7 were murderers; and 20 learned a trade – in prison.
A similar study was done on the family of Jonathan Edwards, the great preacher and the early president of Princeton. From him came 100 college professors, 100 ministers, 100 lawyers and judges, 60 doctors, 24 authors and editors, and 14 college presidents. Legacy - the powerful result of one generation's family choices. Listen, that makes the choice of who you date and who you marry so critical; way too important for just your hormones or your attractions or your loneliness to decide. In the words of Genesis 24:44, "Let it be the one the Lord has chosen."
But this legacy effect is something we have to remember in many of the choices we make. That weakness, that sin that keeps flaring up and hurting the people you love – if you and Jesus don't get it under control, it's going to be hurting generations that follow you. If you settle for a lukewarm faith, that pale substitute for a real relationship with Jesus, that's going to be what you pass on. If your priorities – how you spend your time, your money, your energy – if they're on stuff that doesn't last, doesn't really matter, then those dead-end streets may be where future generations waste their life, too.
You probably have no idea of the long-range impact of your life – the 200-year-and- beyond effect of the choices you're making now. Claim for yourself the promise of God that says, "This is My covenant with them, My Spirit who is on you. And My words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever." (Isaiah 59:21)