What kind of family legacy did you inherit? Are your parents and grandparents examples of godly men and women, or are you burdened with a discouraging or sinful legacy?
Just because you and I have a parent or grandparent who lived a sinful lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to follow in his or her footsteps. But the reverse is also true. The godliest parents in the world cannot guarantee their children will also live a God-honoring life.
In II Kings 15-16, we read of several kings in Israel and Judah. Good kings such as Azariah (15:3) and Jotham (15:34) tried to do “what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” They weren’t completely successful, since they allowed sites of pagan worship to remain throughout the land. However, their descendent, Ahaz, didn’t just tolerate pagan worship, he fully participated in it. He even sacrificed his own child by fire (II Kings 16:3-4).
What could his ancestors have done to prevent Ahaz’s wrong decisions? Nothing. Then, as now, people were accountable for their own choices. Of course, we can be influenced by our family legacy, but those influences do not eliminate our individual, personal responsibility. After reading about Ahaz’s moral depths, we might conclude that his descendants would be morally equal to or worse than their father. Yet, Ahaz’s son, Hezekiah, is one of the brighter spots in Judah’s kingly history (18:3).
The branches of your family tree and mine may be gnarled and shameful, or they may be healthy and fruitful. Either way, as Christ-followers, we have the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us to live in a way that lifts up the name of Jesus and gives glory to our heavenly Father. Regardless of those who came before us, the choice is ours.
Ava Pennington is a writer, Bible teacher, and speaker.
She is the author of One Year Alone with God: 366 Devotions on the Names of God, endorsed by Kay Arthur. She is co-author of Faith Basics for Kids, including Will I See You Today? and the award-winning Do You Love Me More? Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional will be released by Revell Books in October, 2013.
Ava has also written for numerous magazines such as Today’s Christian Woman and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse, and contributed to more than twenty anthologies, including sixteen Chicken Soup for the Soul books.
Visit her website: www.AvaWrites.com.