January 18: Giving Up Control
Genesis 30; Matthew 22:23–23:36; Ecclesiastes 7:6–12
We are born bent on our own ambitions. It’s in our nature to control and compete. And pride—often the source of this behavior—keenly notices the pride of others. Often, we want to point out the failing of the equally prideful and impose our own wills on them, while neglecting to see these traits in ourselves.
In Genesis 30, we find a myriad of characters who are bent on obtaining favor and selfish gain—often at the expense and exasperation of others. Rachel foolishly demands a son of Jacob (Gen 30:1) and then—because the family dynamics weren’t complicated enough—she has her handmaid bear her a child via Jacob. When she finally obtains a son, she is not joyful—she is triumphant: “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister and have prevailed” (Gen 30:8). Leah uses bribery and her own handmaid to gain the attention of her neglectful husband, while Laban and Jacob continue circling, using and manipulating one another (Gen 30:16, 25–36).
Though the battle is often with the other, ultimately the battle of wills ends with God. When we are bent on our own way with others, we don’t think about the one who leads and directs our lives. In Genesis 30, God is the one who is in control of events. Only when He “listened to Leah” or “remembers” Rachel do they bear children (Gen 30:17, 22–23).
Our wills are actually battling His, not theirs. The Great commandment in Matt 22 presents another approach and mode of operation: “You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” If we first submit to this, the second will be easier: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
When we are right with God and we realize how patient He is with our weaknesses, we can learn to be patient with others.
How are you fighting for control of your life and the lives of others? How can you seek to submit your own will to God in humility?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said unto Jacob, Give me chidren, or else I die. Then Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rebekah, and he said, Am I in God’s stead, which hath withholden from thee the fruit of the womb? And she said, Behold my maid Billah, go into her, adn she shall bear upon my knees, and I shall have children also by her. Then she gave him Bilhah her maid to walk and Jacob went in to her. So Bilhah conceived and bare Jacob a son. Then said Rachel, God hath given sentence on my side, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name, Dan. And Bilhah Rachel’s maid conceived again, and bare Jacob the second son. Then Rachel said, With excellent wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and have gotten the upper hand: and she called his name, Naphtali. And when Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife. And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a son. Then said Leah, A company cometh: and she called his name, Gad. Again Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob another son. Then said Leah, Ah, blessed am I, for the daughters will bless me, and she called his name Asher. Now Reuben went in the days of the wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah. Then said Rachel to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son’s mandrakes. But she answered her, Is it a small matter for thee to take mine husband, except thou take my son’s mandrakes also? Then said Rachel, Therefore he shall sleepwith thee this night for thy son’s mandrakes. And Jacob came from teh field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Come in to me, for I have bought and paid for thee with my son’s mandrakes: and he slept with her that night. And God heard Leah and she conceived, and bare unto Jacob the fifth son. Then said Leah, God hath given me my reward, because I gave my maid to my husband, and she called his name Issachar. After, Leah conceived again, and bare Jacob the sixth son. Then Leah said, God hath endowed me with a good dowry: now will mine husband dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons: and she called his name Zebulun. After that, she bare a daughter, and she called her name dinah. And God remembered Rachel, and God heard her, and opened her womb. So she conceived and bare a son, and said, God hath taken away my rebuke. And she called his name Joseph, saying, The Lord will give me yet another son. And as soon as Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, Send me away that I may go unto my place and to my country. Give me my wives and my children, for whom I have served thee, and let me go: for thou knowest what service I have done thee. To whom Laban answered, If I have now found favor in thy sight, tarry: I have perceived that the Lord hath blessed me for thy sake. Also he said, Appoint unto me thy wages, and I will give it thee. But he said unto him, Thou knowest, what service I have done thee, and in what taking thy cattle hath been under me. For the little, that thou haddest before I came, is increased into a multitude: and the Lord hath blessed thee by my coming: but now when shall I travail for mine own house also? Then he said, What shall I give thee? And Jacob answered, Thou shalt give me nothing at all: if thou wilt do this thing for me, I will return, feed, and keep thy sheep. I will pass through all thy flocks this day, and separate from them all the sheep with little spots and great spots, and all black lambs among the sheep, and the great spotted, and little spotted among the goats: and it shall be my wages. So shall my righteousness answer for me hereafter, when it shall come for my reward before thy face, and everyone that hath not little or great spots among the goats, and black among the sheep, the same shall be theft with me. Then Laban said, Go to, would God it might be according to thy saying. Therefore he took out the same day the he goats that were parti-colored and with great spots, and all the she goats with little and great spots, and all that had white in them, and all the black among the sheep, and put them in the keeping of his sons. And he set three days journey between himself and Jacob. And Jacob kept the rest of Laban’s sheep. Then Jacob took rods of green poplar, and of hazel, and of the chestnut tree, and pilled white strakes in them, and made the white appear in the rods. Then he put the rods, which he had pilled, in the gutters and watering troughs, when the sheep came to drink, before the sheep: (for they were in heat, when they came to drink.) And the sheep were in heat before the rods, and afterward brought forth young of parti-color, and with small and great spots. And Jacob parted these lambs, and turned the faces of the flock towards those lambs parti=colored, and all manner of black, among the sheep of Laban: so he put his own flock by themselves, and put them not with Laban’s flock. And in every ramming time of the stronger sheep, Jacob laid the rods before the eyes of the sheep in the gutters, that they ight conceive before the rods. But when the sheep were feeble, he put them not in: and so the feebler were Labans, and the stronger Jacob’s. So the man increased exceedingly, and had many flocks, and maid servants, and men servants, and camels, and asses. Genesis 30
- The same day the Sadduccees came to him, (which say that there is no resurrection) and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife by the right of alliance, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now therefore were with us seven brethren, and the first married a wife, and deceased: and having no issue, left his wife unto his brother. Likewise also the second, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection, whose wife shall she be of the seven? for all had her. Then Jesus answered, and said unto them, Ye are deceived, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry wives, nor wives are bestowed in marriage, but are as the Angels of God in heaven. And concerning the resurection of the dead, have ye not read what is spoken unto you of God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. And when the multitude heard it, they were astonied at his doctrine. But when the Pharisees had heard, that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they assembled together. And one of them, which was an expounder of the Law, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the Law? Jesus said to him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and the great commandment. And the second is like unto this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hangeth the whole Law and the Prophets. While the Pharisees wee gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They said unto him, David’s. He said unto them, How then doth David in spirit, call him Lord, saying, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If then David call him Lord, how is he his son? And none could answer him a word, neither durst any from that day forth ask him any more questions. Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do: but after their works do not: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shouders, but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. All their works they do for to be seen of men: for they make their phylacteries broad, and make long the fringes of their garments, And love the chief place at feasts, and to have the chief seats in the assemblies, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called, Rabbi: for one is your doctor, to wit, Christ, and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for there is but one, your father which is in heaven. Be not called doctors: for one is your doctor, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you, let him be your servant. For whosoever will exalt himself, shall be brought low: and whosoever will humble himself, shall be exalted. Woe therefore be unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, becaue ye shut up the kingdom of heaven before men: for ye yourselves go not in, neither suffer ye them that would enter, to come in. Woe be unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites: for ye devour widows’ houses, even under a color of long prayers: wherefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe be unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites: for ye compass sea and land to make one of your profession: and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell, than you yourselves. Woe be unto you blind guides, which say, Whosoever sweareth by the Temple, it is nothing: but whosoever sweareth by the gold of the Temple, he offendeth. Ye fools and blind, Whether is greater, the gold, or the Temple that sanctifieth the gold? Whosoever therefore sweareth by the altar, it is nothing: but whosoever sweareth by the offering that is upon it, offendeth. Ye fools and blind, whether is greater, the offering, or the altar which sanctifieth the offering? Whosoever therefore sweareth by the altar sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. And whosoever sweareth by the Temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. And he that sweareth by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon. Woe be to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites: for ye tithe mint, and anise, and cummin, and leave the weightier matters of the law, as judgment, and mercy and fidelity. These ought ye to have done, and not to have left the other. Ye blind guides, which strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe be to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites: for ye make clean the utter side of the cup, and of the platter: but within they are full of briberty and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe be unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites: for ye are like unto whited tombs, which appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and all filthiness. So are ye also, for outward ye appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe be unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites: for ye build the tombs of the Prophets, and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous, And say, If we had been inthe days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in the blood of the Prophets. So then ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them that murdered the Prophets. Fulfill ye also the measure of your fathers. O serpents, the generation of vipers, how should ye escape the damnation of hell!. Matthew 22:23–23:36
- The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning: but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. Better is it to hear the rebuke of a wise man, than that a man should hear the song of fools. For like the noise of the thorns under the pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity. Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad: and the reward destroyeth the heart. The end of a thing is better than the beginning thereof, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Be not thou of an hasty spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools. Say not thou, Why is it that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire wisely of this thing. Ecclesiastes 7:6–12