January 9

Genesis 29-31, Psalm 9

Chuck Swindoll tells the story of a couple who attended a three-day conference that he was running. The couple was older and always sat in the front row, in the center. On the first day of the conference, he no sooner opened his mouth, that the man fell asleep soundly. The next day, the same thing happened. Chuck Swindoll had it figured out in his own mind what was happening here. It was obvious to him that the man had no desire to be there, he would probably prefer watching football, etc, but his wife dragged him there. On the last day of the conference, the exact same thing happened. By this time he felt anger surging within him, he felt he wouldn't mind jumping off the stage and grabbing the man. After the conference ended, the couple approached him and thanked him. The wife explained to Chuck that the man was dying of cancer and due to the treatments had difficulty staying awake. She went on to tell him that one of his dying wishes was to see his favorite pastor speaking at a conference. He realized afterward that he felt he had all the information to judge this man but was completely wrong.

Laban was a deceiver, as was Jacob. Through these 20 years that Jacob served Laban, he had repetitively shown himself untrustworthy. He switched brides in Genesis 29:23 after promising Jacob Rachel, "Now it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her." Laban then gets another seven years of Jacob's service of making him work another block of time for Rachel. We see that Laban manipulated the situation with the goats and lambs after agreeing on a deal for another six years of service with Jacob in Genesis 30:33-35. In fact, Jacob sums it up to Rachel and Leah in Genesis 31:6-7, "And you know that with all my might I have served your father. Yet your father deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me." So now, unknowingly to Jacob, we read in 31:19, "Now Laban had gone to shear the sheep, and Rachel had stolen the household idols that were her father's." Not knowing this after Jacob flees from Laban, and Laban catches up to them, Jacob says in 31:32, "With whomever you find your gods, do not let him live. In the presence of our brethren, identify what I have of yours and take it with you." For Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them." When Rachel deceives her father and he is unable to find the household gods, we read in 31:36, "Then Jacob was angry and rebuked Laban, and Jacob answered and said to Laban: "What is my trespass? What is my sin, that you have so hotly pursued me?" Laban's character would certainly justify Jacob's strong response. But, in reality, Jacob, this time was wrong. He felt that he had all that he needed to pass judgment on Laban, but was incorrect. Being so sure of himself, it could have cost his beloved Rachel her life, because of his strong words.

Jesus warns us in Matthew 7:1-2, "Judge not, that you not be judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you." We are all called to discern, but not to judge with a spirit of condemnation. If we were to follow this simple principle of Jesus we would eliminate the vast majority of conflicts and would avoid passing judgment without thinking whether we could adhere to the same standard. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:12, "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known." We may think we have all the information to pass judgment, but in reality, at best we only know the surface of the facts. God knows us all 100%. We know ourselves next best, but even we, find ourselves thinking and doing things that don't make sense. Our spouses know us next best. Everyone else knows only what we choose to show them. We are in no position to judge anyone. Lastly, Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:37, "But let your 'Yes' be "Yes', and your 'No', 'No'. For whatever is more than these is from the evil one." The quick words and oath stated confidently by Jacob could have cost his wife her life. People don't take their words seriously, squirming out of wrong statements by saying, "I didn't mean that". Our words count and should be considered before speaking.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster