Sunday, February 7, 2016

Leaving a Legacy: Choices That Last for Generations


I've finally come to the Ten Commandments in my chronological Bible study. Several of the women in my class bought a copy of The Chronological Bible, but I decided to stick with the Bible I've used for two decades and the notes I've accumulated in the margins. Today, I was glad I did.

We'll have a little word study here and then I'll put it all together, so bear with me.

The notes in the margin of Exodus 20 include a few notes from a sermon by Doug Tipps in January of 1977. (copied from the margins of my previous Bible) When God said "You shall not", the "you" in Hebrew is second person singular. It means that God is not just speaking to a multitude of people. He's speaking specifically and personally to each person. 

In a way, "You shall not" actually means, "Leanna shall not." Put your name in the place of the second person singular "you" and read these verses. It's sobering.

In Exodus 20:4, the word for "visiting" has a neutral root that has no emotional content. God "visits" us and reacts to what He finds. He sees us and responds to whatever life choices we have made.

The root word for "iniquity" means to twist or distort and conveys the idea that, when we sin, we twist or distort the perfect image of God He created in us.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at verses 4 - 6.

"You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to those who love Me and keep My commandments." Exodus 20:4-6 nasb

When we choose to sin, it changes us. It leaves a twist or distortion in us that persists. 

Sin always leaves a scar. 

Those sin-scars may not be long, purplish, snakelike lines running down our face, but there are scars in us, even if they are visible only to God. 

Sin-scars leave an impact that can be felt for generations. 

When we sin, we impact more than ourselves. We impact our children and grandchildren, as well.

That may be hard to believe, but consider what might happen if I decided, in a moment of utter stupidity, to try a highly addictive drug. There's a history of addiction in my family and I, too, could become addicted. The cravings for the drug might drive me to do desperate things that could ultimately cause me to lose my home and property and alienate me from all those I love.

What would that do to my son? To the grandchildren I hope to see riding horses and playing in my pastures someday?

Nothing good would come of it. That's for sure.

We can easily see how a Big Bad Choice might leave scars for generations, but what about something like gossip? It's not less a sin, but is, perhaps, less visible. That, too, can lead to destruction of reputations and alienation of friends that lasts for generations.

Our choices matter.

The choices my parents made impacted me in significant ways. I am partly a product of my environment during my "growing up" years. My son is partly a product of those years, as well. Even his children will see something of the sequelae of my choices and of my parents' choices.

What, then, are we to do?

When temptation comes, and it will, considering our children and grandchild can help. Do we want the sin-scar this choice will cause? Do we want this choice to impact generations of our family or not? 

What we do leaves a legacy. It's our choice whether that legacy will be for good or for evil. 


What kind of legacy will we leave? The choice is ours, and it's one we make every day of our lives. 

Choices matter, so choose well. Their impact lasts much longer than we know.
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Kathy McKinsey wrote a beautiful article for Friday Night with Friends, New Beginning. If you haven't read it yet, you can click here. You can read more by Kathy at her blog

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