March 27, 2015

Truths That Transform: Grace, or Grabbing?

His name meant literally, “he grabs the heel”; figuratively, “he deceives”. And that’s the way Jacob lived his early years. He took advantage of a weak moment with his brother Esau, getting him to sell his birthright for a bowl of stew (Genesis 25:29-34). Later, he conspired with his mother to deceive his father Isaac into giving him the family blessing (Genesis 27), once again taking advantage of his brother.

Fleeing to his uncle’s household to escape his brother’s vengeance, Jacob encountered God at a place he named Bethel, and his transformation began (Genesis 28:10-22). God renewed his covenant promise – originally made to Abraham – to Jacob. Jacob believed God’s gracious promises of protection, provision, and a future, and he responded by committing himself to giving back to God (the second instance of tithing in the Old Testament) and devoting himself to the Lord.

Grabbing, however, was part of Jacob’s heritage, and he soon encountered his equal. He fled to Laban, the brother of his mother Rebekah (who had conspired with Jacob to trick her husband Isaac) and contended with him for 20 years. Tricked by his uncle into marrying Leah when he was in love with Rachel, Jacob later retaliated by manipulating Laban’s flocks in his favor (Genesis 30:37-43) and then by fleeing secretly when God told him to return to his father’s homeland (Genesis 31:20-21).

On the way back to his homeland, Jacob again encountered God (Genesis 32). This encounter, and the renewed assurance of God’s protection and provision, led to a changed attitude toward the brother he now realized he had wronged. Remembering his brother’s anger, Jacob feared retaliation. But he also trusted God’s promises and longed for reconciliation with his brother.

This reconciliation was more important to him than possessions and wealth (which had once been his primary motivation); as a result, he sent extravagant gifts ahead to his brother. No doubt Jacob wanted to appease Esau, but his response also shows a changed heart. Having tasted God’s grace and provision, he no longer put a top priority on worldly wealth. The one who once resorted to trickery for worldly gain could now say, “God has been gracious to me, and I have all I need.” (Genesis 33:11).

If we’re honest with ourselves and before God, we probably would admit that there’s a lot of Jacob in each of us. In our better moments, we trust fully in God’s grace and provision. Worldly wealth pales in comparison to living reconciled with God and with others. At other times, confronted by those who would take advantage of us or tempted by opportunities for worldly gain, we resort to grabbing. Perhaps we stretch the truth a bit on our taxes, take a little advantage of those who work for us, or settle for what is legal (as opposed to what is right) in a business deal.

Where do you find yourself today on the continuum between grace and grabbing? What do you need from God in order to edge a little more toward the “grace” end? Despite Jacob’s tendency to grab, God remained gracious to him and provided for him far more than Jacob could have ever provided for himself. That same grace is available for all of us today.

Good Sense Movement Team
Good Sense Movement
Transforming Finances! Transforming Lives!