Question:

We were having a conversation about a man from a broken family, who is born again. Should he go to look for his dad who abandoned him when he was a child? We were divided into two camps. One group was of the opinion that this man should go look for his dad so that the curse of a broken family would not follow him. Group one was saying he should go and forgive his dad.

Group two, which I was in, argued that he should forgive his dad and, since he is born again, he should forgive his dad without bothering to look for him. God can break all those curses of broken families because nothing is too hard for God. I told the group I would get your opinion on this matter.

Group one was supporting the African tradition of looking for his dad and forgiving him so that the curse can be broken. Group one claimed that even if he went for deliverance that spirit can not be broken. I totally disagreed with them. I stand by the thought that nothing is too hard for God. Dear minister what's your take?


Answer:

Can I form a third group? :-)

When there is a widely accepted belief in a culture, it isn't unusual for people to just assume it is true. But when we are dealing with God's teachings, we have to realize that even long accepted beliefs can sometimes be wrong.

So let me challenge you and your friends, upon what passages do you found your belief that a father breaking his family lays a curse on his children? To abandon a family is a sin, but I want you study an important passage from Ezekiel:

""What do you mean by using this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, 'The fathers eat the sour grapes, But the children's teeth are set on edge'? As I live," declares the Lord GOD, "you are surely not going to use this proverb in Israel anymore. Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die.

"But if a man is righteous and practices justice and righteousness, and does not eat at the mountain shrines or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, or defile his neighbor's wife or approach a woman during her menstrual period -- if a man does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, does not commit robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing, if he does not lend money on interest or take increase, if he keeps his hand from iniquity and executes true justice between man and man, if he walks in My statutes and My ordinances so as to deal faithfully -- he is righteous and will surely live," declares the Lord GOD.

"Then he may have a violent son who sheds blood and who does any of these things to a brother (though he himself did not do any of these things), that is, he even eats at the mountain shrines, and defiles his neighbor's wife, oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore a pledge, but lifts up his eyes to the idols and commits abomination, he lends money on interest and takes increase; will he live? He will not live! He has committed all these abominations, he will surely be put to death; his blood will be on his own head.

"Now behold, he has a son who has observed all his father's sins which he committed, and observing does not do likewise. He does not eat at the mountain shrines or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, or defile his neighbor's wife, or oppress anyone, or retain a pledge, or commit robbery, but he gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing, he keeps his hand from the poor, does not take interest or increase, but executes My ordinances, and walks in My statutes; he will not die for his father's iniquity, he will surely live.

"As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother and did what was not good among his people, behold, he will die for his iniquity.

"Yet you say, 'Why should the son not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity?' When the son has practiced justice and righteousness and has observed all My statutes and done them, he shall surely live. The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son's iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself" (Ezekiel 18:2-20).

Sins are not passed down from one generation to another. This man's father sinned, but that has nothing to do with his children. They are free to make their own choices, good or bad. Too often children of a sinner repeat their parent's mistake because that is all they know, but it doesn't have to be this way. Sometimes children learn from their parents' mistakes.

It is absolutely imperative for any Christian to resolve in their mind to forgive anyone who has wrong them. This man needs to let go of his hurt. His father sinned and did him wrong. That is a fact, but is also the past. It is over, done with, and cannot be changed. But he can change himself and the future so that his own children will not suffer as he did. "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:14-15).

But offer a man forgiveness when he has no clue that it is being offered is an exercise in futility. Imagine how you would feel if you were making payments on a house loan for thirty years. You finally make the last payment only to find out that the banker tells you, "I can't figure out why you keep making these payments, we forgave that debt ten years ago." (Not that any banker would do this, but I'm trying to make a point.) When someone is hurt by another, a debt is created. The one harmed has an obligation to release the other from that debt. But to say it to empty air doesn't do anyone any good.

Also, to forgive a man of something he doesn't see as wrong is a futile effort. Let's use our mythological crazy banker again. Suppose he comes up to and says, "You owe the bank $10,000, but don't worry about it, I forgave your debt." Meanwhile you're thinking, "Debt? What debt? I never borrowed $10,000 from the bank!" Would you feel forgiven or annoyed that someone claimed a debt you didn't believe should have existed? This is why Jesus said, "Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' forgive him" (Luke 17:3-4). The first duty that a Christian has to someone who has hurt him is to show that person that they had done wrong. Then when they realize their error and tell you they are changing, you forgive them -- even if you have to do this cycle many times a day.

So, if this man is having a hard time letting go of his past, then it might be beneficial to talk to his father and let him know how much harm he did. He should go prepared to forgive his father if the man repents. He should also be prepared to find someone who doesn't care. Each person is responsible for their own life, you can't make another person change, only to encourage a change. But if the man no longer cares and realizes that his father's problems are not his own, then he can go on living his life even if he never searches out his father. He should be prepared to forgive his father, if his father searches him out. Or if he does happen to run across his father, he should be prepared to tell his father how wrong his father treated him so that he might lead his father to repentance. But meanwhile life is to be lived and the past is gone.

Thank you so much. So the man doesn't have to look for his dad? He should just live his life right?

I cannot think of a reason that he must find his dad. He might want to, but that would be his choice. While his father hurt him badly when he was a child, it was an indirect harm. I'm sure his father didn't decide one day to make his son's life miserable and so left. His father left for other reasons, and as a consequence of that choice his son's life became miserable.

If the man wants to find his father to change the past, that can't happen. If he wants to find him to repair the damage, well, the damage has already taken place. It might be possible that he can encourage a change in his father's future, but that is questionable whether it can be done. For his own part, this man's life has already changed for the better. He knows some of his father's mistakes and from God he is learning how to not repeat those mistakes in his own children's lives. That is what is important.