Read Jeremiah 31:27-30
27 “The days are coming,” declares the LORD,”when I will plant the kingdoms of Israel and Judah with the offspring of people and of animals. 28 Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down,and to overthrow,destroy and bring disaster,so I will watch over them to build and to plant,” declares the LORD. 29 “In those days people will no longer say,
‘The parents have eaten sour grapes,
and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’
30 Instead,everyone will die for their own sin; whoever eats sour grapes-their own teeth will be set on edge. (NIV)
It is so easy to blame our lot on someone else. Could be the government,the schools,the law,the church,the upbringing we had. This text reminds us that God holds individuals accountable to him. Our environment does affect us and others don’t always make it easy for us. But in the end we are responsible in our choosing. To use biblical language,the sins of the fathers may well affect the children,but the children are responsible for their own destiny.
It is also very easy to try to live someone else’s life for them. We see they aren’t coping. We rightly try to help. But we might go wrong in taking that help too far. We dare not do for others what they can and should do for themselves. If we find ourselves doing this,we might find ourselves doing it out of anxiety. Instead of doing what we can to help and surrendering the person to God,we might ‘over-function’ and try to ease our concerns for them by interfering too much.
The Bible presents us with all sorts of balances. Previous generations’ sins affect us,but do not dictate our destinies or remove the need for responsible decision making. We are to bear one another’s burdens but not as a means of taking over their lives. We are to be concerned for others yet not to be anxiously fussing over them.
Those we love remain frustratingly free to make their own decisions. They remain stubbornly human.