Love Like Jesus–What’s Church Got To Do With It?: Luke 2:46-50

Why go to church Love Like Jesus Luke 2After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

Luke 2:46-50

How Jesus loved people:

In Luke chapter two we see Jesus preparing Himself to love people, here, in His Father’s house, by asking questions. Whether or not these were rhetorical questions we don’t know, but it appears obvious there was a discussion going on. Jesus, the Creator of the universe, is in His place of worship, asking questions. He’s in His Father’s house, He’s about His Father’s business. Jesus will ultimately demonstrate more love for people than anyone ever has before, or ever will again. And His presence here is part of His preparation for that act of love.

Love Like Jesus:

The Son of God, the Creator, the One who is One with the Father, the One who said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father,” the One who raised people from the dead, and who rose from the dead Himself, went to His place of worship and asked questions. (John 14:9)

I don’t know about you but I’m very confident that anyone who has seen me has not seen the Father. And I’ve never raised anyone from the dead either by the way. In fact, I’m not worthy to fasten the straps on Christ’s sandals. So if Jesus took the time to be about His Father’s business in His Father’s house, I certainly need to as well.

I need to do this, and you need to do this because when we go to church we learn to love people better. When you go to church you hear God’s word from the pulpit, reminding you of His desire for you to love others. You hear, from God’s word, examples of how you can love others. You bump into people there in church, people who need you, people who need your help, people who need you to love them, even if it’s just giving them two minutes of your time. You rub elbows with others who also seek to love God and to love others. You’re reminded of how you can remove things from your life that hinder your efforts to love others. You hear something different from the constant information you receive from a culture that largely ignores God.

“Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Jesus asked. Jesus had to be in His Father’s house, and if you and I desire to love people as Jesus did, we have to be in His Father’s house too. (Luke 2:49)

Prepare yourself to love people.

Go to church.

Jesus did.

[Image via: Kate B Dixon, Creative Commons]

The Mentor Leader by Tony Dungy

The Mentor Leader by Tony Dungy

Two of the greatest influences in our lives will be the people we associate with and the books or other media we read or watch. So choose wisely.

-Tony Dungy

If you dream of becoming great someday, you’d be wise to read Dungy’s book, The Mentor Leader.

Other than the Bible itself, this is the best book on leadership I’ve ever read. Dungy’s most popular book was Quiet Strengthand it might be more entertaining than The Mentor Leader. But if you’re looking for the best possible information on how to be the best possible leader, The Mentor Leader is the better book.

Many authors and speakers talk about the value of mentoring and growing leaders but what makes this book different is the practical “how to” information that Dungy providesAnother interesting difference is Dungy’s frankness concerning his own weaknesses. He talks openly about mistakes he’s made and conflicts he’s experienced with players.

“Mentor leadership is all about shaping, nurturing, empowering, and growing. It’s all about relationships, integrity, and perpetual learning. Success is measured in changed lives, strong character, and eternal values.” (Dungy)

According to Dungy, the model for such leadership is Jesus Christ.

The irony concerning such leadership is, the organization wins when this approach is taken.

The Indianapolis Colts under his leadership are proof.

I highly recommend it.

Genesis 32:1-21 — Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid

Jacob’s Fervent Prayer

Where we left Jacob: In Genesis 31 we saw that Jacob was told by God in a dream to leave his uncle Laban, and return to his former home in Canaan. So without telling Laban, Jacob gathered his household and fled. However after three days, Laban found out and pursued Jacob, eventually chasing him down. Laban and Jacob had a heated verbal encounter that included Laban accusing Jacob of stealing his idols, and criticizing Jacob for leaving without offering Laban a chance to say good-bye. Ultimately, Jacob and Laban agreed to a treaty between the two households, and Laban went on his way. (see previous post Genesis 31:22-55 — Jacob was angry and took Laban to task)

Genesis 32:1-21

So shortly after Laban leaves, Jacob leaves also. He resumes his journey back to his former home in the land of Canaan, and on his way the angels of God meet him. When Jacob saw them, he said, This is the camp of God! And he named the place where he encountered the angels Mahanaim, which means two camps. The Bible says that the angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. (Psalm 34:7) We see this played out here on Jacob’s journey. While we don’t learn much about exactly how they made themselves known to Jacob, it had to have been an amazing experience. Perhaps these were those who would minister to him invisibly, but for a moment, the LORD allows Jacob the privilege of enjoying the visible manifestation of their presence. (Hebrews 1:14) (Psalm 91:11)

As Jacob progresses on his journey, a few troubling thoughts are probably progressing through his mind. His recollection of his manipulations to maneuver Esau out of his birthright and blessing, as well as his remembrance of Esau’s threat to kill him for revenge, are most likely moving to the forefront of his mind in correlation to how close he is to his encounter with Esau, in the country of Edom where Esau lives.

So he sends messengers ahead of him, to his brother Esau. He tells them, This is what you say to my lord Esau: Your servant Jacob says, I’ve been staying with Laban up until now. I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, male and female servants, I’m doing well. Now I’m sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.

That sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? In a very humble and deferential manner, he calls Esau his lord, perhaps to ease any concern on Esau’s part that he’s come to claim lordship over Esau, though it was given to him in the blessing. Jacob tells him where he’s been all this time. He also shares with him of his prosperity, perhaps to lay aside Esau’s concern that Jacob is returning to claim his birthright. Finally, Jacob very directly asks for Esau’s favor. Maybe with such a communication as this the two can reconcile.

But when the messengers return they say, We went to meet Esau, and now he’s coming to meet you — with four hundred men.

Uh, oh.

Jacob became afraid. The kind of sick to your stomach afraid that most of us have experienced at one time or another in our lives. In his fear and distress he divides his people and livestock into two groups in the hope that if Esau attacks one group, the other group might be able to escape.

So he employs a little strategy, which is OK, but then he makes a move that’s more than OK, he prays: O God of my father Abraham, he prays. God of my father Isaac, LORD, remember when you said to me, Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper? Well… I don’t deserve the kindness and faithfulness you’ve shown me, I know. When I came to Laban, all I had was my staff and the clothes on my back, but now you’ve blessed me so abundantly that I have two camps. Save me LORD, I pray, from my brother Esau. I’m afraid he’ll come and attack me, and my wives, and my children. But, you said, I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.

Jacob prayed, and he prayed fervently.

He spends the night there, and from his great wealth he chooses gifts for his brother Esau: two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. He put a servant in charge of each herd and instructed them, Go ahead of me and keep some space between the herds.

Then he says to the one in the lead, When Esau meets you and asks, Who do you belong to, where are you going, and who owns all these animals with you? Then you say, They belong to your servant Jacob. They’re a gift sent to you, my lord Esau, and he, Jacob, is behind us, he’s on his way.

And Jacob tells the second, third, and all the other servants who followed, Say the same thing to Esau. And be sure to say, Your servant Jacob is coming behind us.

Jacob’s thinking, I’ll pacify him with these gifts I’m sending ahead, after he’s received these gifts, by the time I get there, maybe he’ll receive me.

So Jacob’s gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in camp.

Responding to Adversity:

Perhaps the best thing to point out concerning Jacob’s response to his adversity is what he didn’t do.

I can’t tell you how much I admire what Jacob didn’t do in response to his situation here. How many of us, when we heard that Esau was coming with four hundred men, would have said to God, Hey! What’s happening here? You said back in Genesis 31, and I quote, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.” Is this your idea of being with me? Esau’s coming with four hundred men. What am I supposed to do about that? I can’t defend myself or my family against four hundred men. Did you forget that Esau said he was going to murder me?

You, or I, or Jacob second guessing God’s decisions for our lives is like a junior high school kid, who once built a bird house in shop class, questioning the guy who built the Golden Gate Bridge — times infinity. When you think it through, second guessing the God who created the earth and all that’s in it, the sun, the solar system, the galaxies, the universe — it’s ridiculous. It’s beyond any semblance of reason to second guess someone who’s demonstrated a capability that’s clearly beyond even the beginnings of our comprehension.

Jacob doesn’t do that. Jacob doesn’t point his finger at God. Instead he demonstrates six ways that you and I can successfully respond to adversity.

1) Provide for protection

The very first thing Jacob does is to provide for his family’s practical protection as best he can. Rather than focusing on what he can’t do, he focuses on what he can do. He can’t battle against four hundred men but he can divide his company into two groups. He does this hoping that if one group is attacked, then the other might escape the hand of Esau. Jacob took action out of love and concern for his family, for his servants, and for all that God had given him to be responsible for.

I feel sorry for my own family, who has to put up with my own enthusiastic approach to this area. In my career I’ve seen houses burn down, cars crash, and heart attacks happen on a regular basis. So whenever I see a family member place something that will burn next to an ignition source, for instance, I’m right on top of it. Seat belts are non-negotiable in my family. I advocate a healthy lifestyle to avoid heart attacks. I sometimes get the eye roll when I insist upon these things but hey, I love my family. I know you do too so provide for their protection, as best you can.

2) Run to the right place

He runs to the right place in his time of need. Jacob recognizes that The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. (Psalm 9:9) When you’re in trouble, the very first place to turn is to your God. Those who know Him trust Him, for He never forsakes those who seek Him. (Psalm 9:10) Jacob didn’t run to Laban’s gods (with a small ‘g’) that Rachel had stolen. He didn’t pray to the angels whom he had just encountered shortly before. He ran to His God. Why run anywhere else for help when the King Himself desires to make Himself available to you?

Though Jacob may have done even better to put his prayer to God before his provision for protection discussed in point number one, he may have had the perception that he didn’t have time to do so. Whenever possible pray first, act second, however, it’s unavoidable that we’ll encounter instances where action is required because there’s no time for prayer. Here we see Jacob seeking out God at what he probably believes to be his earliest opportunity.

3) Point out God’s promises

Jacob begins his prayer with a reminder from God’s word given earlier in Genesis 32: Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper. Then he closes his prayer in the same way, summing up God’s word from Genesis 28:13-15I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.

Jacob illustrates here a very powerful way to pray. I don’t pretend to understand why, but in my own life and in the lives of others, I’ve observed that God tends to move on our behalf when we “remind” Him of His words. One of the great benefits of reading your Bible is that as you come across promises and proclamations made by God, you can “remind” Him of His words as they apply to your own situation. (obviously he doesn’t actually need to be reminded, He’s God) Try it. Try praying in this way and then watch and wait, and you’ll see. You’ll see Him do things — good things.

4) Approach in humility

After reminding God of His word, Jacob humbles himself before the LORD, he says, I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. (Genesis 32:10)

Jesus praised the faith of those who came to Him in humility. The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” (Matthew 8:8,10)

The Gentile woman who pleaded with Jesus to save her daughter said, “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. (Matthew 15:27-28)

Recognizing and accepting your own faults and flaws, your own shortcomings and weaknesses, your own humble state, is an important key to approaching God. Jacob demonstrates that beautifully, here in this part of our story.

“Those are best prepared for the greatest mercies that see themselves unworthy of the least.” (Matthew Henry)

5) Approach with thanksgiving

Jacob thanks God for all that he’s given him. He acknowledges that when he first came to Laban, all he had was his staff, but because of God’s grace, he now has grown exceedingly prosperous and has come to own large flocks, and female and male servants, and camels and donkeys. He gives thanks.

6) Share your heart

Jacob speaks from the heart when he says, Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. (Genesis 32:11) Jacob was honest with God. He told Him exactly what He was feeling. He might as well be, because everything is open and naked before God. Any attempt to hide anything from Him is folly. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13)

God wants to hear what’s on your heart. He’s paying attention. He’s paying close attention. He even knows how many hairs are on your head. (Luke 12:6-7) He desires relationship with you. His scriptures are His way of speaking to you, and your prayers are His way of hearing from you. He wants you to spend time with Him. It breaks His heart to see you walk through life apart from Him. He’s for your success and He knows that living a life apart from Him isn’t in your best interest. He’s far more concerned with your relationship with Him, which is eternal, than He is with your current comfort, which is temporal. Your life here on earth is like grass, like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone. (Psalm 103:15-16) But your life with Him is eternal. Invest in that eternal relationship with Him. (Matthew 6:20)

Regarding God’s will for your life in the context of adversity: The worst thing that can happen isn’t that the LORD will impose upon you a direction that you disagree with. The worst thing isn’t even that you miss what God has in mind for you to do. The worst thing that can happen is for you to miss out on drawing closer to Christ in the process. Overcoming adversity together builds relationship. Just ask any firefighter or soldier.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.

Proverbs 17:17

Jesus Christ is your friend.

He’s your brother.

Draw close to Him

(Proverbs 18:24)


References:

Bible Gateway

Blue Letter Bible

Chuck Smith

Steven Furtick

Matthew Henry

John Courson

Proverbs 17:17 — A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity

Excerpt from tomorrow’s post:

Regarding God’s will for your life in the context of adversity, the worst thing that can happen isn’t that the LORD will impose upon you a direction that you disagree with. The worst thing isn’t even that you miss what God has in mind for you to do. The worst thing that can happen is for you to miss out on drawing closer to Christ in the process. Overcoming adversity together builds relationship. Just ask any firefighter or soldier.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.

Proverbs 17:17

Jesus Christ is your friend.

He’s your brother.

Draw close to Him

(Proverbs 18:24)

References:

Steven Furtick

One Command

God the Father gave one, and only one, command to the disciples. “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. LISTEN TO HIM!”

Matthew 17:5

Matthew 22:37-40 — All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments

Love and InterruptionsI hate to be interrupted. I’m convinced that’s the reason God put me in a career with the fire service. Working for a fire department, you’re constantly interrupted by calls to help other people with their problems. After years of “training” for interruptions in that environment, I still sometimes find myself frustrated when my project work is unexpectedly delayed by people.

Today was one of those days. I was determined that today would be the day I finished the creation of a Kindle version of Traveler and the Chaplain, but, God had other things in mind. The morning started out with an emergency repair of a door lock accompanied by a great fifteen minute visit with my neighbor Tom. That was followed by the discovery of a dead battery in my 1994 Camry. So I called Kathy who returned home to give me a jump. Then we ran the Camry over to the shop. Then we grabbed some lunch and ate it on the way to an appointment where I dropped her off. We had a nice 30 minute conversation on the way. That was followed by a visit with an old friend who gave me a fantastic history lesson about some of the U.S. Army’s battles with Indians in Eastern Oregon. That was followed by dinner with my son, daughter (in-law), and grandson.

Not one word was written today toward completing the Traveler and the Chaplain Kindle version.

But what a great day it was. What tremendous opportunities I was given to pour into relationships today.


How Jesus loved people:

God’s way isn’t our way. Jesus’ life was full of interruptions. Please heal my son, the Royal Official begged Jesus. (John 4:46-54) While He was traveling, a leper came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” (Mark 1:40-45) While He was teaching the paralytic’s friends lowered the man down through the roof so Jesus could heal him. (Luke 5:17-26) On and on it goes — one interruption after another.


How you can too:

Obviously you and I don’t have the same gift of healing that Jesus has. But you and I can choose to respond to people who interrupt us, the same way that Jesus did. He responded in a welcoming way. He responded in a warm way. He responded with love. You and I can too.

Life’s about relationships, with God, and with people.

Even when they come in the form of an interruption.


“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

–Jesus Christ, Matthew 22:37-40

 

[Image via: auq84, Creative Commons]

Matthew 18:23-35 — Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?

Like you, I’ve been forgiven much. Like you I’ve been shown amazing grace. Yet I still find myself criticizing others and struggling to forgive at times.

With that in mind, I find these words from Jesus to be sobering.

“Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.

But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.

“But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.

“His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.

“When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.

“That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”

Lord have mercy on us. Bless us with great ability to show grace. Bless us with an ability to forgive.

In Jesus’ name.

Genesis 31:22-55 — Jacob was angry and took Laban to task

“Laban is looking for idols” by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Last post we left Jacob in the act of fleeing from Laban. He had fulfilled all of his obligations to Laban and had received four keys that helped him to know that moving his family to Canaan was the right thing to do. Four keys that you and I can use to help us know what God’s direction is for us in our lives. (see previous post on knowing God’s direction)


Genesis 31:22-55

We pick up our story with Jacob three days travel away from Laban. But on that third day, Laban is told that Jacob has fled. So he gathers up his relatives and he chases after Jacob. After seven days he catches up to him in the hill country of Gilead. That night though, God comes to Laban in a dream and says, Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad. (Some translate this as the LORD instructing Laban not to begin by speaking kindly to Jacob but then turning on him later, as has been the pattern with Laban. Matthew Henry translates it the same as Genesis 24:50 where, regarding Abraham’s servant’s return home with Rebekah, Laban and Bethuel say, “This is from the LORD; we can say nothing to you one way or the other.” Either way, Laban is warned by the LORD.)

Jacob had already made camp in the hills of Gilead when Laban showed up. Laban and his relatives set up camp there too. Then Laban says to Jacob, What are you doing? You pulled a fast one on me, and made off with my daughters like they were prisoners of war. Why did you sneak off like that? Why didn’t you let me know so I could throw you a going away party? You never even gave me a chance to kiss my grand-kids and my daughters goodbye. You acted foolishly. I and my family gathered here could do you harm, but, last night the God of your father said to me, Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad. (Whatever the meaning of God’s message to Laban, the result was that Laban refrained from harming Jacob, out of fear of the LORD) Laban continued, So you took off because you want to return to your own family, alright, I get that. But why did you steal my gods?

Jacob answers, I was afraid. You outnumber me so I figured you’d take your daughters from me by force. But as for your gods, if you find anyone who has them, that person shall not live. Jacob said this, not realizing that Rachel had indeed stolen her father’s gods. Right here, right now, in the presence of our relatives, Jacob continues, go ahead and see for yourself whether there’s anything here that belongs to you. And if you find anything, then take it.

So Laban takes Jacob up on his offer and goes from Jacob’s tent, to Leah’s, to the tents of the two female servants, but of course he finds nothing. Then he comes to Rachel’s tent. Well Rachel had already hidden her father’s household gods in her camel’s saddle. And when her father came in to perform his search, there sat Rachel on top of that saddle. Laban rummages through everything in Rachel’s tent except for what was under the saddle. Rachel says to her father, “Don’t be angry, my lord, that I cannot stand up in your presence; I’m having my (menstrual) period.” (v.35) So he searched her tent except for the camel saddle, and he came up dry.

It’s worth noting that Jacob’s God, the one and only true and living God, spoke to Laban and protected Jacob. Whereas Laban’s gods weren’t even able to make their presence known to Laban from a few feet away. Laban’s gods were nothing more than a couple of small statues carved by men and stolen by a woman. As for you and I, we can celebrate the kingdom, the power, and the glory of our God. Unlike Laban, while our goods could be stolen from us, our God can never be taken from us. And unlike Laban, who couldn’t find his gods, anyone who seeks the true and living God will find Him. In fact He wants to be found. (see So Your Life Is Falling Apart)

Now Jacob is angry and he rips on Laban, What have I done to you? he asks. What justification do you have to hunt me down like this? You’ve turned my whole camp upside down looking for your gods, and what have you found that belongs to you? Go ahead, put it all here in front of everybody, let them judge between us!

For twenty years I’ve been loyal to you. Under my care your sheep and goats haven’t miscarried, I haven’t eaten rams from your flock. I never brought you animals torn up by wild beasts, instead I always bore the loss myself. And you demanded payment from me whenever an animal was stolen from the flock by someone else. I worked in the heat of the day and stayed out with those flocks in the cold sleepless night. It was like this for twenty years with you. Fourteen years for your two daughters and then six years for your flocks, during which you changed my wages ten times. If it weren’t for the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, you would have sent me away empty handed. But the LORD has seen all of the hardship and hard work, and last night He rebuked you.

Jacob lost his cool. He let his anger fly. Maybe like me you’ve had a Jacob moment like this one. It has certainly broken my heart when I’ve lost it, and it breaks my heart to see Jacob lose it here, for a couple of reasons. First of all Jacob’s wrong! He doesn’t realize that Rachel has in fact stolen from her father. One reason to keep your head when you think you’ve been wronged is that you can never know all there is to know about any situation. What we know about the past is a tiny fraction of all that’s occurred and it’s skewed by what others have told us, from their perspective, which may or may not be accurate. It’s also skewed by what people haven’t told us. In Jacob’s case Rachel hasn’t told him that she stole from her father. When you think you’ve been wrongfully accused, keep your cool, you never know what might be missing from your assessment of the situation.

The second reason Jacob’s rant breaks my heart is the way it blows his witness. That whole righteous indignation thing can feel so good, as we let our feelings go, as we vent, as we pop the cork and let the pressure out. But what about our witness? And what does God think of us when we behave like that? Romans 14 tells us that the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, and God’s word goes on to tell us that’s because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. (Romans 14:17-18) In spite of Laban’s deceiving, defrauding, and double-crossing for the last twenty years, Jacob served him with righteousness, peace, and joy. Jacob served him in a way that pleased God and demonstrated a tremendous witness to Laban and all those around him. Then, right at the very end, he blows his stack. In so doing he discounted a great witness that was twenty years in the making. If you’re doing well, don’t grow weary in well doing. Your serving with righteousness, peace, and joy is precious in God’s sight and it attracts people to Christ. Don’t unravel that service that’s a masterpiece from God’s perspective, by letting loose of your feelings. It’s destructive on multiple levels.

Back to our story: So after a rant like that one, what can Laban say? He answers, These women are my daughters, these kids are my grand-kids, these flocks are my flocks. Everything you see here is mine. (These are some interesting comments by Laban. Though he may have felt that way; though he may have felt that the women, kids, and flocks were his, Jacob had more than fulfilled his part of the bargain to receive them as his own. Regardless of Laban’s feelings, all that Laban saw belonged to Jacob.) Laban continued, Yet what can I do but let them go with you. Let’s make a covenant, and let it serve as a witness between us in the future.

So Jacob takes a stone and sets it up as a pillar. Then he has his relatives gather more stones and they pile them in a heap. Both Jacob and Laban’s camps then eat there together, by the heap of stones. Laban calls it Jegar Sahadutha and Jacob names it Galeed — both mean “heap of witness.”

The heap of stones was also called Mizpah, which means “watchtower” because Laban said, May the LORD keep watch between you and me when we’re apart from each other. If you don’t treat my daughters right, or if you take on wives besides them, even though no one’s around to see it, you remember that God is a witness between you and me.

Laban says, This heap is a witness between you and me today.

Laban also says, I won’t go past this heap to your side to harm you and you don’t go past this heap to my side to harm me. May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.

Knowing how God’s hand was on Jacob, this was a shrewd move on Laban’s part. He could only expect Jacob to grow stronger and stronger as time went on. It was prudent on his part to make a treaty with Jacob to protect himself against that day that would surely come, when Jacob was greater than Laban.

So Jacob takes an oath in the name of the Fear of his father Isaac. He offers a sacrifice there in the hill country of Gilead and invites his family to the meal. After they finish, they spend the night there.

Early the next morning, Laban kisses his grand-kids and his daughters and blesses them. (Notice that there’s no mention of a kiss for Jacob) Then he leaves and returns home.


In-laws and Christ’s law:

In-laws. Movies are made about them. Books are written describing them. There are even websites for people who want to share about how much they hate their in-laws. In my experience I’ve found it to be fairly rare for young families to get along well with their in-laws. (Fortunately for me, I’m blessed to be one of these rare cases. Though I don’t deserve it, my in-laws are great people.) I’ve found it to be much more common for people to struggle in their relationships with their in-laws. From the son-in-law or daughter-in-law’s perspective, mother-in-law (not always, but usually the mother-in-law seems to be the villain) is meddling and manipulative. From the mother-in-law’s (or father-in-law’s) perspective, son-in-law is nowhere near good enough for their little princess, or daughter-in-law is nowhere near good enough for their little prince.

Well then, as an in-law, how should we behave toward our spouse’s family? One way would be to respond as that great, wise, and oft-quoted philosopher Eminem prescribes. “I don’t care if you’re black, white, straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, short, tall, fat, skinny, rich or poor. If you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you. Simple as that.” –Eminem

That sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? If someone, your in-law in this context, is black, white, straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, short, tall, fat, skinny, rich, or poor, be nice to them, as long as they’re nice to you. I think that much of humanity today lives by this ethic, dubbed the Eminem Ethic by orthodox pastor, Father Andrew Stephen Damick. (See Damick’s blog post on The Eminem Ethic) I’ll be nice to you, as long as you’re nice to me.

Of course, taking this reasoning of Eminem’s to it’s logical conclusion, it follows then that if you’re not nice to me, all bets are off. If you’re not nice to me, then I’m justified in treating you likewise. If you’re not nice to me, then I’m justified in behavior toward you that’s outside the parameters of nice. That still might sound pretty fair to some.

The only thing is, that’s not Christ’s way of doing things. Perhaps not too surprisingly, Christ’s way is different than Eminem’s way. Christ’s way, whether your in-laws are mistreating you or not, is in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you… (Matthew 7:12) Jesus’ way is to do to your in-laws what you would have them do to you. Christ’s way is to love them, regardless of their behavior toward you. In the twenty years before he went on his rant against Laban, Jacob demonstrated this beautifully, he lived it, he approached his relationship with his in-laws according to Christ’s law.

Eminem says, “If you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you.” “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” –Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:44-45)

Eminem’s way, the world’s way, is the easy way. It’s the natural way for a human being to behave. It even feels good to respond Eminem’s way. I’m not saying that Jesus’ way will be easy, but in the long term, you’ll find yourself blessed. I’m not saying that His way will come naturally.

But Christ’s way,

as it always is,

is the better way.

   “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

–Jesus Christ, Luke 6:27-36


References:

Bible Gateway

Blue Letter Bible

Chuck Smith

Matthew Henry

RoadsFromEmmaus

Jon Courson

Galatians 6:9 — We will reap a harvest if we do not give up

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

-Sir Winston Churchill

Success isn’t final. If you’re at the top of the mountain right now, there’s one thing guaranteed — you won’t be there forever. It’s just a matter of time before you come down off that peak. And if you’re in the valley of failure right now, the same can be said. It’s just a matter of time before you move up out of that valley.

So don’t rest on your laurels. And don’t falter in your failure.

Keep moving forward.

Don’t give up.

Keep your eyes on God, He’s much bigger than both your successes and your failures.

Never, ever give up.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9

Mama’s Bible

Best story of this type that I’ve ever seen. Thank you Susan for sending this to me.

MAMA’S BIBLE

Four brothers left home for college, and they became successful doctors
and lawyers.

One evening, they chatted after having dinner together. They
discussed the 95th birthday gifts they were able to give their elderly mother who moved
to Florida .

The first said, “You know I had a big house built for Mama.”

The second said, “And I had a large theater built in the house.”

The third said, “And I had my Mercedes dealer deliver an SL600 to her.”

The fourth said, “You know how Mama loved reading the Bible and you know
she can’t read anymore because she can’t see very well. I met this
preacher who told me about a parrot who could recite the entire Bible. It took
ten preachers almost 8 years to teach him. I had to pledge to contribute
$50,000 a year for five years to the church, but it was worth it.
Mama only has to name the chapter and verse, and the parrot will recite it.”

The other brothers were impressed. After the celebration Mama sent out
her “Thank You” notes.

She wrote: Milton , the house you built is so huge that I live in only one
room, but I have to clean the whole house. Thanks anyway.”

“Marvin, I am too old to travel. I stay home; I have my groceries
delivered, so I never use the Mercedes. The thought was good. Thanks.”

“Michael, you gave me an expensive theater with Dolby sound and it can
hold 50 people, but all of my friends are dead, I’ve lost my hearing,
and I’m nearly blind. I’ll never use it. Thank you for the gesture just the
same.”

“Dearest Melvin, you were the only son to have the good sense to give
a little thought to your gift. The chicken was delicious. Thank you so much.”

Love, Mama