JESUS ONLY: Part 2 (Day 27)


What’s Passed Down the Line

It is important to understand that your ways of relating to your family did not spontaneously spring up. They were unconsciously passed on to you by your parents, and in turn, by your grandparents. It is possible that these behavioral patterns (both positive and negative) have been in your family for quite some time. The Bible talks about this, though we often miss it because of the way it is translated. 

In Exodus 20:5, God tells Moses that, “I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me.” (NLT) There are a few different words in this verse that can be translated a little differently, however, and yields something along the lines of, “The sins (and negative behaviors) of parents are passed down for three or four generations.” Doesn’t that make sense?

In his book, “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality,” Peter Scazzero writes,:

"Why are so many of us living lives with deeply entrenched parts of us apparently untouched by the power and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ? … One critical ingredient relates to our need to [examine the attitudes and behaviors instilled by our family of origin.] This can be summed up in two essential biblical truths:

The blessings and sins of our families going back two to three generations profoundly impact who we are today.

Discipleship requires putting off the sinful patters of our family of origin and relearning how to do life God’s way in God’s family."

( Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, p. 73)

In the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality course, as well as the Emotionally Healthy Relationships course, you will go through an exercise called “Genogram Your Family.” In short, it is a reflection on what attitudes may have been passed to you by your parents and grandparents with an accompanying “family tree” depiction of those patterns and unconscious behaviors to help you visualize them. While I will not go through the whole exercise, here are a few questions to get you thinking:

What was your family’s view on money? Was it a measure of security or success?

What did you learn about anger and conflict from your family? How was anger expressed? How was conflict resolved?

What did you learn about feelings and emotions? Were there certain emotions that were “not okay” to have? Did anyone ever talk about their emotions?

Now look at your own life. How have the answers to those questions affected your relationships with others? This is certainly a question that deserves deep reflection.

Whew. It’s possible that this devotional doesn’t have you feeling too uplifted right now. So let me leave you on a positive note. These negative habits and behaviors, through the grace of Jesus, are breakable! He promises to transform us! Isn’t that great news? In fact, Exodus 20:6, the very next verse, holds a promise for anyone willing to work to break negative behaviors that they learned from their parents, and turn to God instead: “But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.”

Reflection Question(s):

What are some positive relational behaviors that you inherited from your parents or grandparents?

What are some negative relational behaviors that you inherited from your parents or grandparents?


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