How to Live for God When Your Parents Didn’t

2 Decisions Josiah Made that Made All the Difference

Do you know someone who wasn’t raised in a godly home? Or someone raised in home where godliness cloaked hypocrisy? Perhaps it was your home. It’s tough to live for God in such circumstances.

How to Live for God When Your Parents Didn't

(Photo courtesy of

The struggle is nothing new. Josiah wanted to live for God, and yet his father and grandfather were two of Judah’s worst kings. When Josiah heard the Scriptures for the first time, he reacted in immediate sorrow:

Our fathers have not observed the word of the LORD, to do according to all that is written in this book. —2 Chronicles 34:21

Josiah determined to be different. He chose to live for God by doing 2 specific things.

So can we.

Tearing Down and Building Up

Josiah removed from God’s dilapidated temple everything that was pagan, burning it all in the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem.

Not only did Josiah remove what was wrong, he also began doing what was right. He initiated repair on the temple of God. He gave instructions for the people to observe the Passover in strict accordance with Scripture. In fact, that year they celebrated a Passover the likes of which had not been seen for hundreds of years!

The Kidron Valley beside the Temple Mount

(Photo: The Kidron Valley beside the Temple Mount. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In short, Josiah did two specific things that helped him live for God:

  1. He tore down all that competed with the worship of God.
  2. He built up that which assisted it.

Our Model for Life Helps Us Live for God

We can learn from Josiah that our model for life must be God’s Word, not our parents’ examples—both good and bad.

Living in the backwash of our parents’ sins does not allow us the excuse or justification to repeat those mistakes. We must acknowledge our pain, grieve the losses, and call sin what it is.

Like Josiah, we must determine to live for God in our own generation by tearing down all that competes with our worship of God and by building up that which assists it.

Tell me what you think: What effect did your parents have on your spiritual life? To leave a comment, just click here.

Adapted from Wayne Stiles, “Breaking the Generational Curse,” in Insight’s Bible Reading Guide: Old Testament (IFL Publishing House, 2010), page 57.

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