God Is My Copilot

A beginner's motto.

Genesis 31:36-42 (ESV)

Then Jacob became angry and berated Laban. Jacob said to Laban, “What is my offense? What is my sin, that you have hotly pursued me? For you have felt through all my goods; what have you found of all your household goods? Set it here before my kinsmen and your kinsmen, that they may decide between us two. These twenty years I have been with you. Your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried, and I have not eaten the rams of your flocks. What was torn by wild beasts I did not bring to you. I bore the loss of it myself. From my hand you required it, whether stolen by day or stolen by night. There I was: by day the heat consumed me, and the cold by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes. These twenty years I have been in your house. I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night.”

The humiliation of being searched really trips Jacob’s wire. He still needs to learn humility, but he does make some good points here. Jacob worked hard these last 20 years; Laban has done well by him. The sincerity of this tirade shows that Jacob no longer thinks his trick with the sticks was meaningful. God alone gave the harvest.

Jacob ends his tirade with a mini-sermon. He’s preaching words he’s only just now beginning to understand. Laban had told Jacob how he learned that God has his back and Jacob reflects that back at Laban. At least Jacob was listening.

Jacob has reached an important stage in his sanctification. He is now a “spoiled brat believer.” He definitely believes in God and is grateful, but he sees God as his copilot instead of his pilot. He thinks it’s his show and he’s blessed, of course.

The next steps will be tough but important – and interesting too. Jacob needs to be humbled. He still doesn’t care about anyone else but himself.

He needs to learn that it’s not all about him.

Jacob is not unlike many new believers, especially in America. One of the jobs of a local church is to move them past that stage. This is made more difficult by the way Christianity is “sold” in America. We present the gospel as a great deal, an easy way to get into heaven. “Heaven is a free gift,” we say.

That’s true, but it focuses the gospel on what we get out if it instead of focusing on Christ. The church has the rather challenging job of teaching them that it’s all about God.

Pray for new believers. Pick out one or two that you know and lift them up to the Lord. Ask Him to show them the magnificence of His plans and the magnificence of Himself.

Ask the Holy Spirit to open their hearts and minds to greater concepts.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:


Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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