“And the men of the place asked about his wife. And he said, ‘She is my sister’; for he was afraid to say, ‘ She is my wife,’ because he thought, ‘lest the men of the place kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to behold.’”
A few years back, an interesting term began to circulate through the church. The term I am referring to is “generational curse.” It meant families were cursed by the sins committed in generations passed. Once this diagnosis was given, an elaborate system was developed to rid the families of this curse. The basis for the curse was a poor understanding, and improper application of the idea that the sins of the fathers will be upon their children (Exodus 20:5). The encounter between Isaac and Abimelech serves as a much better example of how sins are repeated from generation to generation.
Earlier in Genesis, we read of Abraham and Sarah traveling to Egypt. As they approach the city, Abraham tells his wife of a plan he had developed to keep himself safe. That plan was to lie to the people, and claim Sarah is his sister. Knowing the danger to a foreigner in the land, Abraham saw his scheme as the only way to protect himself and his wife. A few years later, Abraham would repeat this same act. Now his son is grown and facing a similar threat, and he naturally acts as he has been taught by his father. There was no generational curse on Isaac. Instead, we have a young man behaving after the example set by his father.
This is an all too common problem. When a child grows up in an abusive home, he learns by example, that the way to deal with conflict is by force; he often treats his children as he was treated. The same is true with substance use and abuse. When children grow up in a home where alcohol is the solution to problems, they too, learn to escape in a bottle. It is not a curse that is passed on, it is a pattern, and the pattern is broken when an individual decides they will not follow in the sins of the past, but will live a life that is well-pleasing to the Lord.
The example the Christian is to follow, is the example of Christ. Paul said, follow me as I follow Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1); John wrote, we are to walk as Jesus walked (1John 1:7). It is very easy to slip back into the behaviors we grew up with, rather than looking to the Word of God to determine how God would have us live.
It is time we break the “curse” and start living lives that honor Christ.