God’s commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3), but they are demanding. They are not burdensome because they are good and given by a loving God. They are, however, demanding because they require obedience from a humble heart. Humility is the key to obedience because the humble man receives God’s grace (James 4:6). The grace of God reveals to us three crucial reasons to obey Him: 1) God’s absolute authority over our life 2) His uncontested power over our enemies, and 3) His unassailable love revealed in Christ. In Genesis 31 we have an example of humble obedience in a difficult circumstance. Consider:
- Growing Opposition (1-2). Laban and his sons became increasing jealous of Jacob as they saw his possessions increase. In addition to this, “Laban did not regard him with favor as before.” Jacob was aware of the growing opposition from Laban and his family. Jacob obeyed because he knew that God was more powerful than Laban.
- Divine Instruction (3). In the midst of the opposition God clearly instructed Jacob to leave. He said, “return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.” Jacob obeyed because he knew that God was in control of His life and directed his steps.
- Timely Confirmation (4-16). God’s instruction was confirmed by his wives. They, like Jacob, understood Laban’s dishonesty. They were aware that he had been using them for his selfish gain. God, in His goodness, graciously unified Jacob, Leah, and Rachel to follow His instructions for them to leave.
- Unnecessary Retaliation (17-21). Rachel retaliated against her father’s poor treatment by stealing the household gods. It was the custom of that day the one who possessed the “household gods” was to be the inheritor of the family wealth and power. Also, the Bible says that Jacob “tricked” (stole the heart of) Laban by “not telling him that he intended to flee.” This retaliation was uncalled for and betrayed a moment of weakness and lack of trust in God’s protection.
- Desperate Aggression (22-35). Laban realizes that he has been tricked and is coming to confront Jacob. Laban relents of his aggression after being warned by the Lord not to hurt him. This is a great testimony that God has power over our enemies and they can only operate if the Lord allows.
- Righteous Indignation (36-42). Jacob was angry at Laban and berated him for his conduct. Jacob lists all of Laban’s deception and recounts how God has graciously preserved him through it.
- Gracious Unification (43-55). Laban and Jacob made a covenant with one another. Laban asked Jacob to promise to take care of his family. Laban promised to not cross over the heap of witness to go to Jacob. God graciously brings peace between Jacob and Laban.
Jacob is a man of faith who is willing to obey God no matter the cost. He trusted that God would help him be obedient. What about you? What has God called you to do? Are you struggling with it because of how much it will cost you? Are you afraid of the backlash that would come from your obedience? Humble yourself before God and receive His grace. Trust that God, who loves you and gives you good commands will preserve you.