The saga of Jacob, Laban, and Laban’s daughters revels in a clash of wits. Laban, with possible collusion by the two sisters, outwits Jacob (who has just outwitted his brother Esau).
Jacob’s heart is so captured by the beautiful Rachel that he agrees to work seven years to win her hand. Laban’s love, however, is centered on the well-being of both his daughters. So the bride Jacob assumes is Rachel turns out to be her elder sister, Leah. Just as Jacob had dressed as Esau to deceive Isaac, so Leah dressed as Rachel, the rabbis say.
“That’s just the way we do things around here,” Laban seems to explain. Jacob the deceiver has been outfoxed. Yet Jacob’s love is so great that he works another seven years for the hand of Rachel, whom the rabbis imagine helped her sister Leah with the disguise.
Thus cleverness serves conflicting loves. Jacob loves Rachel; Laban loves his daughters; Rachel loves her father and her sister. How can all of these different and possibly conflicting loves come to a successful conclusion? Jacob will continue to be challenged to use his wits to love his newly formed family.
Likewise, our lives are filled with conflicts between legitimate but differing loves. How do we allot time and energy between spouse and children, family and career, personal commitments and the church? These conflicts all challenge us to develop skill and discernment in giving each love its rightful due. Our love must become “wise as serpents” (Matt. 10:16)—ever more deft and fair. Jesus cautions us to let such wisdom always be in the service of agape—loving consideration of the other.
Lord, grant me the wisdom to love wisely and well. Amen.
Jacob has tricked his brother out of his birthright and has tricked his blind father into blessing him instead of his older brother. This week the trickster is tricked, and his desire to marry Rachel will cost him dearly. The psalmist reflects on the faithfulness of God. God has made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the author is confident that God will honor that covenant. Paul builds upon his argument to the Romans about the power of the Spirit. The Spirit helps us pray to connect with God, and nothing can separate us from the love of God. Jesus continues to teach about the kingdom of God using parables. Finding our way into the kingdom is worth far more than anything else.
Read Genesis 29:15-28. How does a wise faith help you discern between differing loves?
Read Psalm 105:1-11, 45b. How is your faith journey an extension of God’s covenants with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
Read Romans 8:26-39. How have you experienced prayer as an opening of yourself to God’s Spirit rather than a petition for yourself or others?
Read Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52. How are you growing in Christ? If your faith has become stagnant, what “sorting” might help you to continue to grow toward proficiency in being Christlike?
Respond by posting a prayer.