Who are you? What defines you as a person? Probably not a question that most of us get asked regularly if at all. Yet it is a question that delves into the core of our psyche and, how we answer often defines how we act and how others view us, for better or worse. Some view themselves as incredibly important or have an inordinate opinion about their worth and estimations based on their social standing, wealth, etcetera. This mindset goes both ways, as some deem themselves “unworthy” because they do not possess the “finer” things or run with the “in crowd” when they’re out. Another erroneous view worth spotlighting has to do with who our ancestors were. Some believe that their lineage determines their superiority or inferiority. In recent times, some have used this mindset to indict Caucasian individuals whose ancestors may have been slave owners. Consequently, they were viewed as racist and treated with disdain not based on their actions but the actions of their ancestors. Thus, their inferiority, unworthiness, and character were defined by their great-great grandpappy. Furthermore, the popularity of ancestral tracing in our society only highlights how much emphasis is placed on genealogies. 

It is not where we come from that defines us but what we do in life. 

Morne Stephanus

On two separate occasions, the apostle Paul warned young evangelists Timothy and Titus to avoid disputes about genealogies. Nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith1 Timothy 1:4But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and uselessTitus 3:9. The Jews and Gentiles took great pride in their linage especially in an attempt to show their prestige. On one occasion, some of the Jews touted Abrahamic linage to erroneously prove their emancipated state (John 8:33). Paul warned that trying to establish from what stock you were would only culminate in contentions and disputes. Who your ancestors were does not define who you are. It has little to do with what you can accomplish in life or your righteousness or unrighteousness. This is the thesis of the book of Romans, that righteousness is in the Gospel and it only (Romans 1:16-17). However, no one person bears this out more than Jesus the Christ.

Just a glance at the linage of Jesus will highlight the futility of basing one’s worth and ability on ancestry. In the lineage of Christ, you will find Judah, the one who had sexual relations with Tamar (Genesis 38:18). One might say this is not something out of the ordinary. However, amidst the highly convoluted actions portrayed in the account, the bible tells us that he slept with Tamar thinking she was a prostitute (Genesis 38:15). One of Jesus’ ancestors thought it ok to solicit a prostitute. Then, there is David whose actions need no introduction. David committed adultery and tried to cover it up by lying, deception, and ultimately murder (2 Samuel 11). David bore a son and named him Solomon. He followed in his father’s footsteps and became a notable polygamist. (Cf. 1 King 11:1-3 & 2 Samuel 5:10). Subsequently, Solomon also engaged in idolatrous worship. For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David1 Kings 11:4Rehoboam’s disdain for God’s people precipitated the split of the Kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 12). Rehab, who (before the conquest of Canaan) made a living running a brothel and prostituting herself is also an ancestor of Christ. (Cf. Joshua 2 & Matthew 1:5). Time and space will not permit us to look at the history of everyone in Jesus’ linage, but these are sufficient to establish the premise.

We are free moral agents who have the ability and opportunity to do right and live right no matter our origins.

Morne Stephanus

The ancestry of Jesus is disreputable in certain instances. Yet, we do not read anything in the way of the Lord’s character, actions, and life being anything like his forefathers. What we read is exactly the opposite. We read of His loyalty to the Father (Luke 22:42 & John 4:34). We also read of His unmatched faithfulness (Hebrews 4:15) and His unyielding love for mankind (Titus 2:13-14). Who Jesus was and what He did while on earth was not determined by His genealogy. The Christ chose his reputation of righteousness; he chose a life of faithfulness and ultimately chose to die on the cross to save us all. Every individual regardless of social status, economic standing, or genealogy can walk in righteousness. We are not our forefathers; we are not even our parents! We are free moral agents who have the ability and opportunity to do right and live right no matter our origins. It is not where we come from that defines us but what we do in life. Little children let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous1 John 3:7. Indeed in the matter of righteousness ancestry is not applicable.