Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Cost of Honesty/Dishonesty -- Genesis 31:31-32


Then Jacob replied to Laban, "Because I was afraid, for I thought that you would take your daughters from me by force. The one with whom you find your gods shall not live; in the presence of our kinsmen point out what is yours among my belongings and take it for yourself." For Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.

Jacob begins to answer Laban’s question but first addresses why he left like a thief in the night rather than why someone may have stolen Laban’s idols. In his answer, Jacob admits fear and that if he had tried to leave openly, Leah and Rachel would not have been allowed to go with him. Sometimes we do things out of our fear. We’re afraid that if we do things the way we want to do them, we’d lose out on something or someone that we value greatly. As we study Jacob we need to remember that he, as with Abraham and Isaac before him, was not perfect by any means. God did work with and use them all in spite of their own stubbornness and often their fear which caused them to take matters into their hands. Sometimes by lying as to ‘who their wife really was’ and sometimes by ‘fleeing in the night’ as in Jacob’s case. This does not change the fact that the preferred way to live is to do the right thing in our fear, trusting God to get us through any situation. I understand this is often easier said than done. I believe much of it has to do with how far we have moved in our journey from being in the wilderness as a saved but carnal Christian to being in the land of milk and honey across the river Jordan as a spiritual man or woman of God, where He alone rules in our lives.

The next thing we notice is that Jacob was not aware of the fact that Rachel had stolen her father’s idols when she fled with Jacob. In fact, he was not even aware that the idols had been stolen at all. We note two things: As much as Rachel may have loved Jacob and vice-versa, they certainly were not totally open and honest with each other when it came to their actions. Rachel had kept the theft from her husband. This past week, my adult family and I watched a movie on television entitled Duplicity with Julia Roberts – some of you may have seen. It was an excellent depiction of just that – the fact of being deceptive, dishonest, or misleading. The pursuit of duplicity was being carried out between corporations, individuals, and even those who were supposed to be in love with each other. In the end, the key characters were left with nothing.

Secondly, I wonder whether Jacob would have been as readily agreeable to have the individual with whom the idols would be found be put to death had he known they were indeed stolen by a member of his own household. Would Jacob have indeed allowed Laban’s relatives to search his caravan? Perhaps he believed Laban was just bluffing. No matter what his reason was, with this offer, the plot certainly thickens.

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