“You show love to thousands but bring the punishment for the parents' sins into the laps of their children after them...you reward each person according to their conduct and as their deeds deserve.”
Jeremiah 32:18, 19b
What I found curious about today's verses is that Jeremiah seems to be making two opposing theological assertions in his prayer. On the one hand, he affirms that each person has the freedom to do good or to do evil and that they will receive their rewards accordingly. On the other, he says that children will pay the price for the sins of their parents, seemingly regardless of their own deeds.
My initial reaction to this second assertion is to recoil from it, but isn't there truth in it? I once learned all about family systems theory and how we inherit so much from our mothers and fathers, the good and the bad personality traits as well as the dysfunctions that lead to brokenness and sin. I don't believe God actively punishes us for being born in a certain family, but Jeremiah points to the fact that it is inevitable that our parents' sin can and will affect us too. But the Lord most certainly rewards us when we put love at the center and transcend our family dynamics by doing what is right. By living in this way, each subsequent generation will have the gift of a healthier family system.
Reflect for a minute on what you've picked up from your environment growing up, the things of God that you want to cling on to, and the things not of God that you want to put aside. Now imagine setting up the next generation for success. What does that look like? What has to change in your life? No generation is perfect, but the more we can transcend the baggage and habits and attitudes we bring to life with us, the more God can transform the people to whom we're closest.
Ultimately, we become like those we spend time with. So resolve to spend time with Jesus and share the Lord with your loved ones. Through your example, who knows? They might just become like Jesus as well. "A life to transcend" is all about making God bigger than our own issues and intentionally allowing the Spirit to transform us from the inside out.
Prayer: “Lord, I believe you are a just and righteous God. Yet we struggle with certain truths and wrestle with our own assumptions to figure out how it all fits together. It is hard work and just when we think we've got it all worked out, we realize we've only just scraped the surface. And yet, from my own experience, I know you to be a righteous and just God, a God who put on flesh, lived a human life, and died in a painful and humiliating way so that I, two thousand years later, can live. This day, I pray that you would overcome me so that I may transcend my own family system. May I, like my blessed Savior, embody the same kind of love that brings abundant and eternal life. Amen!”