By Brent Smith
[Brent is the preaching minister of the Trenton Church of Christ in Trenton, TN.]
Is a child born with guilt inherited from dad and mom? God answers with a resounding “No.” In the 18th chapter of his prophetic book, Ezekiel says that “the soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (v. 20). Even so, if a son has an evil father or a daughter has an evil mother, can he or she overcome nature and nurture and mature into a good person?
Earlier in the same chapter, Ezekiel has described a son who grew up in the home of an idolatrous father. His dad didn’t keep his hands off his neighbor’s wife. The man was mean to people and broke his promises. The boy knew his dad was a violent man and a thief. The father had no sympathy for the poor and he lived a godless life in front of his son. The boy was exposed to all of his father’s sins (Ezek. 18.14-18). What chance did the poor kid have?
The boy saw it, thought about it, and decided to be different (Ezek. 18.14). He chose to serve God and abstain from adultery. He grew into a man who was kind and true to his word. He cared for the poor, providing them food and clothing. God saw the choices made by that boy who became a good man, and granted him life! Yes, the apple can fall far from the tree.
But it’s not easy because nature and nurture are powerful influences. God, however, is stronger than both, and he has given us the power to choose. No matter how difficult your childhood, you can choose God, and he will give you life. Christians can help each other too. You can be the godly father, mother, grandparent, or sibling that a child didn’t had at home. Never give up on the children of godless parents! Help them to consider their choices and make good ones.