Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess. Deuteronomy 5:33
“The next time you are feeling rather unimportant,” suggests Gene Britton, “try a little arithmetic based on the undebatable fact that it took two parents, your parents, to get you here.” He suggests that you begin with your parents and then add four (your grandparents). Then add eight more based upon the fact that your grandparents both had a biological mother and father. You soon notice that you are the product of eight great-grandparents, 16 great-great-grandparents, 32 great-great-great grandparents and so forth. Based on a generation being about 25 years and going back some 500 years, you will count 1,048,576 people from whom you descended. And you dared to think that you were just a nobody?
Question: To what degree have you been influenced by your forebears? Possibly, more than you might think. The next time that you’re feeling strange urges to do something, ask yourself if there just might be a link between what you want to do and what your ancestors have done before you. No, I’m not suggesting reincarnation. I’m talking about being influenced by hardline ancestors.
That time-worn cliche “like father like son” has a biological basis. In spite of the fact that more daughters, today, are taking up their fathers’ occupations than sons, it is a fact that we tend to duplicate our parents’ habits and behavior, in spite of the fact that we often detest what they do, and we say, “The last thing in the world I want to do is be like my parents!”
For a long time scientists have argued over the nature versus nurture syndrome (or heredity versus environment), and following World War 2, when optimism flourished like a well watered meadow, psychologists said that your environment is far more important than your heredity. Today, however, scientific studies make a strong case for the power of heredity.
None would deny that your culture and your environment are important. Take as an overview the Old Testament record of what happened when families with good roots became corrupted by their culture and environment. Read Genesis 18 and 19 and notice how the influence of Sodom in Lot’s family seemed to override the importance of heredity.
There is another interesting character study in the lives of four men who were father, son, grandson and great-grandson. You can read about them beginning in the Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles. The first father, Uzziah, became careless. The son, Jotham, walking in his father’s footsteps, went one step further and compromised his integrity. His son, however, went even further astray than his father and grandfather and became thoroughly corrupted. Yet the next in this line, the great-grandson, turned his back entirely on the lifestyle of the three previous generations and went down in history as being a godly man who walked with the Lord. His name–Josiah, and he is often referred to as “good King Josiah” who brought a nation back to God.
What’s the bottom line? You’ve got to decide whether you walk with God or walk in the darkness of the world. It’s your decision, your choice. But there is one thing for sure: Your example, Dad, makes it a great deal easier for your son or daughter to walk in your footsteps no matter which direction you go.
One dad was thinking of that as he took his son with him to the local restaurant where he often drank heavily. As the waiter asked, “Young man, what will you have to drink?” The boy replied, “Same as what dad always has!” The dad swallowed, thinking of what he usually had, and replied, “Yeah, make that two cokes!” The awesome power of influence.
Resource reading: Genesis 18-19.
Editor’s Note: The original title of this article was “BLAME YOURSELF OR YOUR ANCESTORS?”