“Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of livestock; and when they saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead, that indeed the region was a place for livestock, the children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spoke to Moses, to Eleazar the priest, and to the leaders of the congregation, saying, the country which the Lord defeated before the congregation of Israel, is a land for livestock, and your servants have livestock.” Therefore they said, “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants as a possession. Do not take us over the Jordan.” And Moses said to the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben: “Shall your brethren go to war while you sit here? Now why will you discourage the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the Lord has given them? Thus your fathers did when I sent them away from Kadesh Barnea to see the land. For when they went up to the Valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, so that they did not go into the land which the Lord had given them. So the Lord’s anger was aroused on that day, and He swore an oath, saying, ‘Surely none of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and above, shall see the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, because they have not wholly followed Me, ” – Numbers 32.1-2, 4-11

Beware your sins fathers. They could become the sins of your sons. This does apply to your daughters as well. Don’t think that this is a gender exclusive issue. The things that you have done, the secret sins that your children may not know of, still have the power to affect them. Whether they are great, horrific sins—like murder or adultery, or small, seemingly innocent ones, like lying—they bear the same strength. They all have the power to influence your children in ways that you cannot imagine.

There is a chance that the children of the tribes of Reuben and Gad didn’t remember their fathers after they died. They may not have fully understood their disobedience to God. But that didn’t stop that sin from seeping into their lives, and tempting them.

These few verses, especially Moses’ response to their request, serves as a powerful reminder to all parents, fathers and mothers: take stock of your life. Examine yourself, your shortcomings and temptations, because they very well may be the issues that your children face. Do you have a porn addiction or tendency to be tempted in that way? Is alcohol or other substances something that you are inclined to use and abuse? Are you bad at giving your word, making a promise, and then not following through on it? Do you have a covetous heart, always wanting what others have?

Too often we avoid looking into the dark, sinful corners of our hearts, but I think that as parents it is important that we do. If we are going to raise our children, if we are going to give instruction and live by example, we need to look at what is going on in our hearts. And after we have looked and seen where we fall short, where we often miss the mark in being obedient to God, we need to start thinking of our children. What can we start teaching them so that they do not fall into the same traps and temptations that we have? What boundaries can we put up to help guard our children from the same sins that we have and are struggling with?

Yes, too much protection and guarding can drive kids right into the things that you wish to protect them from. But that is not an excuse to do nothing, to not be preparing a way to help our kids out of potential sin and temptation.

Because the threat is real. The problem is at hand. Our children could fall victim to the same sins as we have. Beware.

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