DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: Does God punish our children for the wrong things that we’ve done? I’ve heard people say this, but it doesn’t seem very fair to me. — J.R.
DEAR J.R.: We alone are responsible for our own sins, and we alone are accountable to God for what we’ve done (or failed to do). We can’t blame anyone else; we alone must bear our guilt, for we alone have sinned. The Bible says, “The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child” (Ezekiel 18:20).
Sadly, however, children sometimes have to bear the pain of their parents’ disobedience. The child of an alcoholic father (for example) may have to endure a burden of loneliness and resentment; a dissolute or neglectful mother may cause deep psychological damage to her children. Sin always has bitter consequences, not only in our lives, but in the lives of our children.
It shouldn’t be this way, of course; God entrusted our children to us so we would raise them with love and wisdom and be an example to them of godly character and discipline. The Bible says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
But even when our upbringing hasn’t been perfect (or has even been evil), it should remind us of our need for God. His love for us never fails (even if our parents have failed us) and he wants to make us his children forever. Make sure Christ is the foundation of your life and your family, and pray this for other families also. The Bible says, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11).
Write “My Answer,” Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; or visit www.billygraham.org.
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