The Deeply Formed Life: Self-Examination in a Superficial World

Text: Genesis 12-37; Exodus 20:1-6
Resource: The Deeply Formed Life (Ch. 5-6) by Rich Villodas

God promises Abram a family so large that he would become a great nation:
"The Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse: and all people on earth will be blessed through you."(Gen 12:1-3)

"By Faith Abraham, when called to go to the place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going." (Hebrews 11:8).

Abram is an incredible man of faith but he makes mistakes:
"Now there is a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.  As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, 'I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say. 'This is his wife.' Then they will kill me but will let you live.  Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you."(Gen 12:10-20).

This is not just a one-time mistake but a repeating pattern:
"Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shut.  For a while he stayed in Gear, and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, "She is my sister" Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her." (Gen 20:1-3)

Abraham passes down this sin and it lives on in his son, Isaac:
"Now there was a famine in the land - besides the previous famine in Abraham's time - and Isaac went to Abimelek king of the Philistines in Gerar...When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, 'She is my sister,' because he was afraid to say, 'She is my wife.' He thought, 'The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful.'"(Gen. 26.1,7)

Abrahams grandsons Esau and Jacob also continued these patterns  - sins of lying, manipulation, misogyny etc. Patterns of sin live on from one generation to the next (Ex. 20:5-6), but there are also patterns of blessing:  

"I, the Lord your God, and a jealous God, punishing the children fro the sin of the parents 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)

Generational sin is real, and it has consequences that can last for generations, but God’s promise is that mercy triumphs over judgment. Our family of origin has a massive bearing on who we are today, but so does God!

God's promise to Abram was one of passing on blessings from generation to generation. In
other words, we all carry both an incredible inheritance and generational sin. We have a
choice - ignore our junk (hide it, ignore it, spiritualize it) or acknowledge the past with the hope
of breaking the cycle.

So, what do we do when we encounter our own generational sin and unhealthy patterns in our lives?
Look up - start with the gospel (acknowledge without blame or bitterness).
Look back - face your past (no longer have to deny or dismiss).
Look in - develop an awareness of what you are feeling  
Look out - share your story with others (vulnerability can bring healing).