Devotion for Jan 30-Feb 1, 2018


I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. -Exodus 20:5-6

As I write this my son, Joey, has a cold. I don’t like that. I would rather have the cold–the runny nose, the sore throat, the aches and pains–than see Joey sick. And my daughter, Colette, is running a fever. She had her four-month vaccinations yesterday and isn’t reacting especially well. She didn’t sleep well last night and is crying off and on this morning. I wish I had the fever instead of her. I don’t like seeing my baby in pain.

As parents, this is a natural reaction. We don’t like to see our children in pain. We don’t like to see our children in trouble. We certainly don’t like to see our children struggling. And what shame we would feel if we found out that our careless actions were the cause of our children’s pain, trouble, and struggle.

This is exactly what God’s word teaches us: we bring all sorts of trouble to our children, our grandchildren, and even our great-grandchildren through our sin. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” is how the old saying goes – and the old saying is true.

Little girls who themselves were constantly nagged as children often find themselves nagging their own daughters. Little boys who see their father losing his temper often find themselves getting into many fights. Children whose parents’ marriage ends in divorce have great trouble keeping their own marriages together. A person’s sins cause him lots of pain as well as others.

Sin is never between “just me and God.” My sin always affects other people. I am the cause of my own pain and the pain of many others, just as God tells us through Moses.

However, through Moses, God also gives a promise–that he will show love to a thousand generations of those who love him. This is nothing but a promise of the coming Jesus Christ. While my sin causes harm to many others – Jesus’ perfect righteousness, purity, and love gives blessings that eclipse my sin. My sin affects a few generations–dozens of people; Jesus’ holiness clothes each and every generation of believers with blessedness–millions upon millions of people.

My sin embarrasses me and I’m ashamed of the hurt I’ve caused others. But when our hearts condemn us–Jesus is greater than our hearts! He has removed our embarrassment from us, he has done away with our shame, he has taken all hurt upon himself. In its place, he gives hope, grace, and peace. He gives it to you by faith. He gives it to your children and grandchildren by the same faith, he gives his purity to all people through the proclamation of the Word and administration of the Sacraments.

God promises grace and every blessing. He gives it to us through Jesus–for a thousand generations and even unto life eternal.

Prayer: Lord God, you have given us the Law to show us our sin and its consequences, yet you have given us the Gospel that we may believe that our sins have been truly taken away by Christ Jesus. Forgive us for our sin and the harm we have unknowingly caused others and fix our eyes on the cross of Jesus, that we may receive his forgiveness and live in righteousness and purity toward others; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.