Editor’s Note: For those who are not planning on having children, this concept of the widespread consequences of sin can be applied to any individuals within your sphere of influence.
My late teenage years were difficult for me. To most people I probably didn’t seem like the typical rebellious teenager, but inwardly, I was struggling. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say I was both consciously and consistently falling to temptation, and I imagined that it wouldn’t affect anyone but myself.
I was wrong.
As the months passed, one thought kept returning to my mind: “What about your kids? Think about your kids.”
Little by little, as I thought about them, I began to see the two paths clearly — the choice to obey or the choice to fall to temptation — and with those two paths I saw the eventual results. Far in the distance, maybe thousands of days away, were two opposite outcomes. If I continued in the direction I was going, I would eventually lose the ability to obey at all. I would be lost. If I chose to resist and change direction, I would live: I would eventually learn to obey from the heart.
But what was most terrifying was that my outcome did not stand alone. In my mind’s eye, I could picture my future children. There they stood, watching their mom either trust God or resist Him, either withstand temptation or fall to it. I could even see their minds being shaped by my current choices. I could imagine their sinful tendencies stemming from my failure to address my own weaknesses; I could imagine their choices taking cues from my own. Just as my physical features would be reflected by theirs, so would my sin take miniature shape in their own hearts.
And with them, I could see their children. And their children’s children. With my outcome stood the outcome of hundreds, possibly thousands.
As much as I wished it wasn’t the case, I had to face it: I was not alone in the world. My sin was not a personal matter. It might be a private choice, but it would reap public consequences. If I spun out of control, I could throw others out of control with me. If I chose to trip down the wrong trail, who knows how many would follow? But on the other hand, if I did choose to obey, how many would I influence positively? My influence could spread equally as far in either direction.
“What about your kids? Think about your kids.”
As I remember my teenage struggles, I realize that these persistent thoughts weren’t new. Neither was my eventual decision to remain faithful. Instead, they were built upon the monumental cornerstone of a single event: the time when God Himself likely mouthed the same words, trembling as He hung upon the cross: “What about Your kids? Think about Your kids.”
Hanging there, He could see us far in the distance, hundreds of years away, watching our Redeemer either trust God or resist Him, either withstand temptation or fall to it. He could see our minds being transformed by His current choice; He could see His righteousness taking miniature shape in our own hearts. With His outcome stood the outcome of thousands, possibly millions.
So He obeyed; He hung on.
“For the joy that was set before Him, [He] endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
Thanks be to God.
So the next time you’re tempted, remember the faithful One who has gone before you, obeying so that you might obey. Remember, too, the thousands of faithful ones who have followed after Him, building on that cornerstone of faithfulness.
And remember your kids.