PEOPLE often assume that their “private” sins hurt no one but themselves. For instance, how could the sin of envy affect anyone else? Isn’t coveting strictly a matter between them and the Lord?
But sins of character have a way of touching everyone with whom we have contact, especially those we love the most, our family. That is what happened in three generations of Isaac’s family. His wife, Rebekah, was determined to gain Isaac’s blessing for her favorite son, Jacob, even if it meant deceiving her husband (Genesis 25:28; 27:5–29). Thus she helped her son Jacob grow up to be a deceiver (27:35-36).
Years later, Jacob’s second wife, Rachel, became frustrated as her sister and rival, Leah, bore four sons for Jacob. Rachel’s anguish developed into such strong envy that it created tension and anger in her husband, even though he loved Rachel dearly (29:34–30:2).
A bitter harvest of Rebekah and Jacob’s deception and Rachel’s envy was reaped in the third generation when Joseph’s brothers began to envy him (37:11). They sold him into slavery and then deceived their father about it (37:23–35). Where had they learned to treat their sibling with jealousy and their father with such cruel deception? Clearly, they were following in their elders’ footsteps!
Sin can pass from generation to generation, not just by what is said, but by what is lived. Attitudes are not so much taught as caught.