Jacob’s descendants, the Israelites, went to Esau’s descendants, the Edomites, to ask permission to cut through their property on their way to the Promised Land. When last we saw the brothers they were reunited, their past differences seemingly forgiven. But here we are hundreds of years later, and the bad feelings seem to have resurfaced. The king of Edom threatened to go to war with his cousins if they stepped foot on his land.
I don’t know why the Edomites reacted so strongly against Israel, why they didn’t trust them to walk through the land and keep their word not to disturb anything. Was it because Esau didn’t trust Jacob so many years ago? Was that something the Edomites grew up believing? “Never trust a son of Jacob.”
Was it because of jealousy? “Why are Jacob’s descendants so blessed by God? We’re Abraham’s sons, too.” Was their refusal to allow the Israelites to cut through their land just meanness toward people they envied?
It has me thinking about the things we say, the attitudes we display, the prejudices and opinions we express in our homes and in front of our children. Many people are able to break away from toxic parenting, and allow God to shape their attitudes instead of simply adopting their parents’ attitudes. Many are not able to do that, and live their lives with the same destructive thoughts and actions as their parents and, often, their grandparents.
But there is a flip side. If peace, and love, and holiness, patience, kindness, and joy are lived in your home, just maybe your children will follow your lead when they are old enough to choose their own attitudes. Just maybe they will learn from you to base their view of the world on God’s Word instead of the nightly news, to love instead of hate, to be holy instead of blending in with the world.
Which gets me thinking about something else. What kind of attitudes and opinions are rubbing off me and onto the people with whom I have contact? I represent God, or religion, or the Church, or Christianity when I wear Christ’s name, when I profess to be a Christian. Do I want people to adopt my opinion of God, my view of the world, my attitude toward sin and forgiveness?
I believe our attitudes and our beliefs are contagious. What are others catching from us?