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Break the Cycle

Our Narrative Lectionary reading for this upcoming Sunday is from 2 Kings 22:1-10.  Josiah becomes king at 8 years old.  After generations of terribly abusive kings, he decides to reform the temple and bring the people back to worship.  He fixes the temple and re-institutes the teachings of Moses. 

Two major truths stood out to me this week.
1.) We are not captive to inheriting the sins of our father

Scriptures tell us that the sins of our parents visit even the 3rd and 4th generations.  This idea is seen first in Exodus 20 with the 10 commandments.  We often forget the end of the statement though.  Exodus 20:5-6 tells us that our sins may visit 3 or 4 generations, but God's love visits thousands of generations. 

I come from a family of alcoholics, and I have a unique understanding of how alcoholism can pass from one generation to the next.  As I have explored that, I have seen how many of our parents habits become our own.  We inherit their temper, their conflict avoidance, their shallow emotions, anger, or whatever other burdens they may carry on into their own adulthood.  The thing is, we don't have to. We can learn new patterns. Change what you don't like.  God's love can free us. 

Side note: Ezekiel 18 clarifies that it is not God punishing generations, for God's justice is aimed at the individual.  But God does not deny that our parents way of living does impact us.  The hope of the gospel is that God can set us free from this cycle.  We are no longer captive to our sins. 

2.) Part of the journey is to receive feedback and apply it with humility

Josiah started this journey with a simple action, cleaning out the temple.  Upon cleaning it though, he discovered the book of Moses.  The book explained how to worship God and holidays to celebrate.  Josiah realized they were doing it all wrong.  It would have been easy to hide or ignore the book, but instead he instituted change. 

When we discover toxic patterns from our parents we can hide them, or ignore them, or we can do the hard work of rehab.  That work begins with recognizing the problem and being humble enough to  accept it. 

Many of our inherited patterns are so normalized for us that we could never defeat them without feedback from others.  As iron sharpens iron, so we sharpen one another (Proverbs 27:17; Romans 15:1-2; Ephesians 4:25).

May each of you be blessed by people willing to give you difficult feedback.  May you have ears to hear and eyes to see.  May God give you strength to break the cycle, and free you from any negative pattern you inherited from your family.


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