“The soul who sins is the one who will die.” Ezekiel 18:20
A pastor sat in his study, utterly devastated. He’d just learned that his twenty-one-year-old son had impregnated his girlfriend at the Christian college campus he attended. The pastor felt as guilty as if he personally had been caught in an adulterous affair. What did I do wrong? How could it have happened? Remembering the words of Scripture—“An elder must be…a man whose children…are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient” (Titus 1:6), the pastor saw no choice. Though he was an effective and popular leader, he would resign immediately.
Was this anguished servant overreacting in his decision to resign? We think so. We believe the Scripture above refers to younger children. In Paul’s day, males and females were considered grown much earlier, marrying at fourteen or sixteen years of age. The Lord appears to settle the matter in the book of Ezekiel: “The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him” (18:20). Remember, too, that the father of the Prodigal Son was not blamed for the young man’s wickedness (Luke 15:11–32).
For mothers and fathers of grown children, it may be a comfort to realize that each adult is responsible only for his own behavior. Instead of taking on the sins of our grown kids, let’s respond by bathing them in continual, loving prayer.
How do you think you would respond to a grown child’s sin?
How does the Lord want you to respond in such situations?
Heavenly Father, how easy it can be for us to entwine our lives with that of our children. Give us discernment to understand Your Word as we apply it to our family, and help us to come to You in prayer for every circumstance. Amen.