Tag Archives: Forgiveness

A Godly Approach to the Sins of Our Fathers

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Thanks to OneChristianVoice for posting the following blog. Check out their site for news that affects Christians locally and around the world.


In the wake of the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, virtually every city in the nation is trying to determine if their statues and monuments are politically correct (including my city of Tallahassee). For many, the memorials of our founding fathers are now epicenters of violence and hatred. It seems everyone now falls into one of two groups: those who want the statues to remain and those who want them removed.

The real question, though, isn’t about monuments at all. The real question is, “How do we approach the sins of our fathers?”

As Christians, we should seek our answers and direction from the Bible. This alone—and not our personal bias or agenda—should be our standard.

 

Noah’s Mistake

The story of Noah in Genesis chapter 9 seems particularly relevant to us today.

Noah had just saved his family and a remnant of animals from the flood. He then planted a garden and a vineyard to begin cultivating a new food supply. However, the first batch of wine must have been stronger than he realized, because he “drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent” (Genesis 9:21).

This appears to have been an accident on Noah’s part but, regardless of how it happened, Noah found himself in a compromising position. That’s when Noah’s son Ham “saw the nakedness of his father” (Genesis 9:22). Perhaps Ham had an ax to grind against his dad. Or maybe he thought that it was time for Noah to step aside so he could take the lead. Whatever his reasons, he decided not to cover his father discreetly. Instead, he left him naked and “told his two brothers outside” (Genesis 9:22). The Hebrew word for “told” is nagad, which means “to be conspicuous.” Ham didn’t whisper a concern for his father; he declared his father’s mistake out loud so he and his brothers could revel in their father’s shame.

Ham’s brothers, Shem and Japheth, didn’t take the bait. They didn’t broadcast the situation to their wives and children. They didn’t make jokes about “dear ol’ dad” or post incriminating pictures on Facebook. No, they simply took a garment, like a cloak or wrap, and laid it over their father. In fact, they didn’t even look at him, but walked backwards into the tent so they could cover his nakedness while maintaining his dignity. (See Genesis 9:23.)

 

A Child’s Response

What is the right response, then, when we don’t approve of the actions of our forefathers? When we wish there had been more equality, more grace, more sympathy from past leaders? When we’re appalled, ashamed, and embarrassed of their sinful acts?

Usually, our response is to be like Ham. We yell to others to “Come and see!” We point fingers and sling accusations and curses. We want others to bear witness: “See how bad he was? Don’t be like him!” We think this is our duty, and we call our hatred righteous indignation.

The truth, though, is that we are all like Noah. We think that our sins and shame are hidden in our own tents, that no one will know our mistakes or see the darkness of our hearts. But we are exposed before God, and our own children will judge us.

We all hope that future generations will treat us like Shem and Japheth, that they will look upon us with respect and dignity, regardless of our mistakes. That they will try to see our situation as it is now, and not in the clearer vision of hindsight. Should we not care for our own forefathers in the same manner?

  

None Can Boast

Remember, Noah was the only person on the face of the planet who “found favor in the eyes of the Lord,” which is why God chose him and his family to repopulate the earth after the flood. We know that Noah was “a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:8-9). This was a man unequal in his day, and yet he made a mistake.

Noah’s son Ham treated him with callousness, while his sons Shem and Japheth were respectful. Nevertheless, Noah’s mistake was not covered up when his sons covered his nakedness. No, his mistake is now captured in every printed Bible for all the world to see!

That’s how history works. A man can have a noble heart and do a thousand good deeds, but we may seize upon his faults, skewing our perception of him. Or perhaps the history books correctly characterize the sinful acts of a person, but they cannot tell us the motives of his heart.

When we talk about history, we forget that it was forged by men and women…people just like us. And the Bible says that none of us is without sin. (See Romans 3:10.) None of us can boast that we have lived a life of perfect righteousness…not even Noah, from whom the whole world was saved. Instead, we must boast in Jesus, the Righteous One who saved us from our sins. (See Acts 3:14.)

 

A Godly Response

Our past is more than statues and history books. We are constantly affected by the actions of our parents and our ancestors, and we must decide how to react: whether to protest, support, vote, volunteer, expose, or blow the whistle.

It is my prayer that we will approach our history—and the sins of our fathers—like Shem and Japheth approached Noah. To do so, we must set aside our arrogance and seek the truth in humility, for that is the beginning of wisdom. And as we reveal the truth, we must avoid reveling in its sins, for that will only bring dishonor upon ourselves. (See Proverbs 11:2.)

We must also cover the sins of the past, not with a cloak of darkness or with lies, but with mercy and forgiveness. Mercy couldn’t hide Noah’s mistake, and it won’t make the sins of the past go away. It will, however, remove the sting of sin and enable us to forgive our forefathers.

And isn’t that what we all want: a future that is marked with love, truth, mercy, and forgiveness? A future that we can be proud of? If so, then it is up to us to show our children the way.

 

“For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:2, Jesus speaking).


I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! Please leave a comment below. Thank you!

Girls with Gusto: A Clean Heart

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CleanHeart

Photo by Ashley Jones, 2016.

 

I’ve been writing a book for young women called Girls with Gusto. It’s about our mission as Christians and the eight major steps we take on our spiritual journey.

With each chapter, God has been working on me, pulling me closer to Him. It’s a wonderful reminder that I serve a living God who is interested in my well-being and desires an intimate relationship with me. But that kind of growth often brings growing pains.

 

A Clean Heart

Step One in the Christian journey is A Clean Heart. In this step, we learn that we’re sinners in need of saving. We discover God and accept His mercy and the sacrifice of Jesus. Then, God’s Spirit comes into our heart and cleans it out, making us new.

Eventually, we mess up. Like the prodigal son, we seek after the flashy, sexy things of this world, and we lose touch with the deep and meaningful ways of God (see Luke 15). If we’re to hold onto our faith, we have to come back to God and seek forgiveness. Then, He goes to work cleaning out our hearts again.

That’s the raw truth, a summation of Scripture. My own experience is harder to tell.

 

My Story

I always believed in God, even as a small child. I never had a true conversion experience, other than my baptism at age 13. I remember the feeling of a clean heart, white as snow.

At some point in my teens, I started going off-trail, detouring from the path God had outlined for me. When my grandmother passed away when I was 21, I didn’t know how to handle it. I was overcome with grief and depression for years, and I didn’t know how to rely on God. Instead, I got married so I would have someone to lean on. Of course, that didn’t work out, and I found myself divorced at 24 years old.

Robby and I have been married for five years. I now have the love, friendship, and security I searched for as a young woman. And I know that God is the one who provides us with all things—whether directly or through other people. I thank Him every day for what He’s given me.

Because of that, I tend to forget about my past and just focus on the present and look forward to the future. It sounds healthy, but it’s not always helpful. When I was writing about Step One, A Clean Heart, God showed me that He can use my past for His glory. It can be an important part of my testimony, and I shouldn’t deny it or shy away from it.

 

An Excerpt

So, I rewrote that first section. I still included the meat of Scripture but, this time, I told it from experience. I trust this honesty and transparency will resonate with readers; that it will show them what faith looks like in real life.

Here’s an excerpt from my manuscript:

Because of this situation, I know a few things I wouldn’t know otherwise. For example, I can tell you that the loneliest place on earth is inside a broken marriage. The hardest thing to hear is “I don’t love you,” even when you realize you really don’t love that person, either. And, even in the 21st Century, there is a stigma to divorce that follows you wherever you go, especially church. 

At twenty-four, I was the prodigal daughter. I had to humble myself, crawl back to my Father God, and ask for forgiveness. I had to come back here, to Step One, A Clean Heart…. 

In [Luke 15], we see that the father loves his son because he is compassionate and merciful. In the same way, God loves us because of who He is. It has nothing to do with our own efforts, no matter how domestic or diva they may be. This is great news, because it also means that He loves us even when our efforts fail. Even through grief, mistakes, and divorce. 

Our value, then, is not determined by what we do but by the God who values us.

 

Your Testimony

If you’ve tucked away your past mistakes, I want you to know that God still sees them. If you haven’t asked for forgiveness, then do so today. Start your life anew with a Clean Heart before the Lord.

If you’ve already received forgiveness, then there’s no need to hide what has been forgiven. Let the Lord show you how and when to share your story so that it can bless others and bring Him glory.

I’ll be honest with you: it’s not easy to share something painful. But I can assure you that it’s worth it, to live free of the past and to encourage others to do the same.