Do our actions only affect us or do they have an effect on those around us, as well?
Interesting question… one that I’ve wrestled with for some time. If you’re a parent, I would suspect that it’s easier to recognize the ‘good fruit’ that might be passed on to our children as a result of our labor. But, is the contrary also true… that as a result of our sin and disobedience, that our children might be affected negatively, as well? When I was growing up, my father was adamant about teaching me to respect and honor those older than me. Today, as a parent and a teacher, I witness blatant disrespect towards others from young people on a regular basis. Not from all, mind you, but with enough regularity that it has me very concerned. However, after reading 2 Samuel 18-20, I believe that we have tremendous potential… that respecting and honoring our descendants through our actions not only has the potential to address the short term issues we’re all more concerned about, but can also have a positive ripple effect that can potentially influence countless generations to come. With God’s grace and a committed and willing heart, we can be the change we want to see in the world!
King David’s words in 2 Samuel 18:5 are loaded with melancholy. It tears up a parent’s heart when their child rebels, but knowing as David did that Absalom’s hatred toward him stemmed from David’s own disobedience must have twisted the emotional dagger in David’s heart.
Back when David sinned with Bathsheba and manipulated her husband’s death, Nathan the prophet delivered news that David’s son would rebel as punishment for their father’s sins. Nathan’s words seem to help explain Absalom.
David may have been a brilliant leader in many ways, but his nation and his family endured his mistakes, as well. The son he had with Bathsheba died, and Absalom took another brunt of David’s punishment. David still loved his son desperately, and however wrong they were, Absalom’s actions resulted from consequences that David brought on him.
Thousands of years have passed, but even over the passage of time and half a world’s distance, this father’s regret is palpable here and now. David’s most important success stories did not occur within his family. For all his investment in his people’s future, the hearts most precious to him suffered.
Absalom wasn’t known for honor, and he certainly didn’t die honorably. David had to live with the fact that, had he not committed adultery and murder, Absalom likely wouldn’t have carried the weight of this father’s wrongs. Yes, Absalom was responsible for his own actions, however, his life was needlessly tainted by his father’s sin. Who knows what honor Absalom could have brought to his family had David protected the honor of his descendants by avoiding sin?
We have the choice to invest every day in the honor of those who come after us, whether in the lives of our own children or others we influence. Based on these moments, will we be able to look back without regrets? We haven’t lived our final moment yet, so there’s still time to invest well.
Father, You are amazing!! You’ve invested so much in me so that I can invest in others. Please help remind me to care for the character of those who come after me by living a life according to Your plan today and the rest of my life. And always, Thy will be done… Amen!
Greg Stefanelli (gstefanelli)