Modeling Grace

Mature people can teach great lessons.

Genesis 31:43-55 (ESV)

Then Laban answered and said to Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine. But what can I do this day for these my daughters or for their children whom they have borne? Come now, let us make a covenant, you and I. And let it be a witness between you and me.” So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. And Jacob said to his kinsmen, “Gather stones.” And they took stones and made a heap, and they ate there by the heap. Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed. Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me today.” Therefore he named it Galeed, and Mizpah, for he said, “The LORD watch between you and me, when we are out of one another's sight. If you oppress my daughters, or if you take wives besides my daughters, although no one is with us, see, God is witness between you and me.”

Then Laban said to Jacob, “See this heap and the pillar, which I have set between you and me. This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass over this heap to you, and you will not pass over this heap and this pillar to me, to do harm. The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.” So Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac, and Jacob offered a sacrifice in the hill country and called his kinsmen to eat bread. They ate bread and spent the night in the hill country.

Early in the morning Laban arose and kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned home.

Laban outclasses Jacob by replying to his tirade with a father’s heart. He makes a good point but he doesn’t press the issue. His measured response makes Jacob look small. Laban (who has all the power in this situation) isn’t hurt by Jacob’s words. He’s the adult in the room.

Laban suggests a covenant and Jacob just follows along. Jacob’s only quote in this entire passage is, “Gather stones.” Jacob responds substantively at the end but it’s all Laban’s ceremony. The next morning, Laban does the things a loving father would do and heads home. He knows he’ll never see his daughters or the grand-kids again.

This is wonderful example of the greater one displaying grace towards the lesser one. Laban makes Jacob’s tirade in 31:36-42 sound like whining. Scripture does not record Jacob being humbled by this but it’s hard to imagine that he wasn’t. Rachel and Leah may have helped drive that point home later; I know my wife would have. This is the perfect prelude to what happens next.

Spouses can be excellent accountability partners because they are often eyewitnesses to the things we need to be called out on. Other accountability partners are great, even essential, but for them to do any good, we have to accurately self-report our mess-ups. That can be a pretty unreliable mechanism, especially at the times when we most need to be called out.

Today, let’s pray for our marriages. A healthy marriage helps both people grow in Christ.

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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