Have you ever seen kids grow up to be just like their parents? They struggle with the same sin and fall into the same bad patterns. In some ways we may expect kids to be like their parents, but we cannot become comfortable with generational sin.
Beth Moore said, “We tend to think of our hand-me-down baggage as part of who we are rather than how we’re bound.” Sometimes our sin and family “chains feel completely natural, we consider them part of our personalities rather than a yoke squeezing abundant life out of us” (Breaking Free 80).
Ruth, in the Bible, could have very easily taken this approach. Do you know her family history? Ruth is called a “Moabitess.” In Genesis 19:36-37 we see that “Both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab. He is the father of the Moabites to this day.” This heritage made Ruth a daughter of incest. Ruth came from a family founded on the “grossest kind of human relationship…incest between a father and daughter (MacArthur 1).
With all of this family bondage, how did Ruth become a worthy woman? And how did she manage to escape the sexual sin that her ancestors had fallen into?
Ruth wasn’t considered worthy because she was never tempted. She faced the same scenario that her ancestors had generations before her. A careful reader of Scripture would almost sense the deja vu of Genesis 19 in the Ruth 3 account. Ruth, like Lot’s daughters faced a man who had been drinking. Ruth, like her ancestors, was in great need of a provider and a redeemer, and even an heir. Just like Lot’s oldest daughter, Ruth found herself with a man in a dark place at night, alone.
Because Ruth is contiually labeled a “Moabitess, we almost expect her to follow in her ancestor’s footsteps. This passage won’t seem to let us avoid her sinful heritage. I wonder if Ruth ever heard the lie that many of us believe “I can never change. I can never be different from my family, not with all of these years of sin.”
1. The truth is that God has made a way for us to live righteously regardless of our family history.
Why can we live righteously?
- We can live righteously because “He sent redemption to his people” (Ps. 111:19a). God sent salvation for all people and “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness” (Titus 2:11-14). We can only live a righteous life because of what Christ did for us on the cross.
- We can live righteously because we have the Holy Spirit inside of us. If we are weak when it comes to our family bondage, we are in a perfect position for God to work. God’s word says, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9a). Again in Romans 8 we hear that “the Spirit helps us in our weakness” (vs. 26a). We can live righteously by yielding to the Holy Spirit and by setting our minds on the Spirit. Romans 8: 6 says that this is life and peace.
- We can live righteously because we have the truth. We must be people of truth! And amazingly we have the living and active word of God. We may be bound in sin, or even in chains like Paul, but the word of God is not bound (2 Tim2:9b). 2 Timothy 2:16-17 says that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” The Bible is a tool that God uses to sanctify us with as well as equip us to live righteously (John 17:26). Sanctify us in your truth Lord!
2. God’s heart is to not only redeem us personally, but to redeem our families as well.
- We are redeemed “In Christ” 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Ruth didn’t go back to her family roots and continue in the destructive patterns because God was doing a new thing in her. We, like Ruth, don’t have to fall into sin like the previous generations, because God had redeemed us. Ruth was a woman of strength because of God’s work in her. Ruth, on her own, had an incestuous heritage, but because of Christ she was redeemed and able to be in Jesus’ family.
- God isn’t finished with Ruth. Ruth was redeemed, but God wasn’t done with her. He redeemed her family line as well. Incredibly, the one who would come through her family line would be the Redeemer of all mankind- Jesus. He has made a way for us to be redeemed.
- God’s heart is to redeem messed up families. What is so powerful about God’s word is it shows us that Boaz’s family had been redeemed from sin and he was able to minister to Ruth out of his testimony of redemption. Ruth’s family, on the other hand, was still walking in sin. But in each case God brought redemption. Regardless of whether our families are walking in sin or walking with Jesus we can have hope in the redemption of Jesus Christ. This is God’s heart. He longs to redeem and restore families. He wants to “turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers” (Mal. 4:6a).
3. We may be separated from our physical family because of sin, but God has given us his family- the church.
If you are discouraged with your family situation right now, take heart. Mark 3:35 says, “For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” God has given the church to surround us and be our Gospel family.
Ruth is not the only one offered a place in God’s family. Today God’s word says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1John 3:1a). If we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are God’s children. We may have inherited some bondage (anything that hinders freedom in Christ) from our families, but in Christ we have a “godly heritage” (Ps. 16:16; Moore). This redeeming love is available to you. The family of God is yours.
“I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice, holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days” (Deut. 30:19b-20a).