“And Adam … became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image” (Genesis 5:3).
The picture to the right is of my daughter side-by-side with my great-grandmother. We recently noticed how much they resemble each other, so my daughter set up her camera and tried to mimic the same expression. It really blew me away to see how two people, five generations apart, could look so much alike.
Our children are truly born in our image. Genetics may be powerful, but our influence on our children is even stronger. They respond to things in ways they have seen us respond to things. They value, at least for a time, the things they have seen us value. They talk the way they have heard us talk. They will learn life-shaping lessons on how to deal with conflict based on how they have seen us deal with conflict. The choices they make for years to come may very well be based upon decisions they have seen us make. They are “according to our image” in multiple, powerful ways.
This is why fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers must take our position of influence seriously. Never underestimate the power of your influence to shape the character of your children! They are being fashioned daily “according to your image.”
God used a common proverb in Ezekiel’s day to illustrate how his people were mimicking the Canaanites who had previously lived in the land: “Like mother, like daughter” (16:44-45). Rather than acting as if God was their Father, the Israelites were living much more like their idolatrous and pagan “forefathers.” Jesus made the same point to the Jewish leadership of His day. Abraham might have been their physical ancestor, but their real daddy was the Devil because they were acting just like him (John 8:37-44). We will all, in more than one way, bear the image of our parents.
The question bears asking then, “Whose image am I really reflecting?” Our goal as parents and grandparents should first and foremost be transformation into the image of Jesus (Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18). If we know our offspring will bear our image and most likely follow in many of the same paths, it’s crucial that our character be as close to Christ as it can be. As the apostle Paul wrote, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1).
This is not to imply that we are perfect, nor that our children will ever be raised in a perfect environment, because the only perfect home that exists is in heaven. Our children will make their own choices, just as we have. Many of us have overcome less-than-ideal home environments because we gave our hearts to Jesus. Remember that God loves you and He loves your children. His grace is with us as we seek to grow. His Spirit is with us as our image is being transformed. And He has promised us, if we will lay aside the old self with its evil practices and put on the new self, true renewal “according to the image of the One who created” us (Col 3:9-10) is possible. That is what we must teach and model for our children and grandchildren—becoming more like Jesus each and every day.
Whose image are you reflecting? What your heavenly Father wants for you is crystal clear.