Of all things we experience in life, our relationships reveal the most about our character.

All Scripture is God’s Word, and is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). It’s our natural tendency to apply principles that we know from the New Testament to Old Testament stories. But remember, a text taken out of context leaves just a con. So don’t judge Jacob too harshly. His family did not have the written Bible, but they did have the oral Word of God which they were responsible for.

There are three principles to remember before getting into the content of this chapter:

  • Growth always should be determined in the Big Picture. This chapter shows just one part of Jacob’s life spanning 4-6 years.
  • The consequences of sin are unavoidable. We face consequences of sin from before we are saved and afterwards, but God gives us grace to endure.
  • Children are always influenced by their parents’ decisions. Children learn from their parents’ action and inaction. Jacob’s children were raised in an irreverent environment. His family is never found worshipping in this chapter. These children observed favoritism and saw their parents adopt pagan Eastern practices.

Jacob’s family lived an itinerant, nomadic lifestyle. They adopted the dark, fallen practices of the people around them by having heirs by handmaids and seeking fertility through superstition. But all the time, God is merciful. We know the rest of the story – God overruled even the sins of this man to accomplish His will. God made sure to keep His promise to Abraham.

The reality of God’s mercy in the midst of our sin is a humbling thing. God wants us to do his will with Him, but it will be done nonetheless. What a joy to be able to join Him in His work!

Our relationships reveal our theology.

Our relationships with others tell how much we know about God and how willing we are to live according to His character. Jacob’s family is a mess because he is not enduring his consequences honorably.

Jacob’s family is rife with anger, bribery, and disrespect. Rachel is not trusting God. Jacob just wants to get out of his difficult home situation, but doesn’t do much better at work. Laban is a deceiver, but Jacob outwits him and shrewdly takes advantage of his father-in-law.

When parents walk with God and lead their family in a worshipful lifestyle, the peace of God governs a house instead of strife, and the fruit of the Spirit will predominate over the deeds of the flesh.

The very first chapters of Genesis teach us that every soul is valuable because each is made in the image of God. Whether or not you get along with a person, or even if their life is not God-honoring, we must respect everyone. Christians are remade in Jesus Christ and indwelt with the Holy Spirit – even more reason not to show disrespect in the body of Christ!

Our relationships show areas that need improvement.

The relationships in Jacob’s family showed envy, scheming, abuse of power, contention and strife. This chapter reminds us that our sin does not affect just us – it always leaves people hurting from our emotional decisions and carnal actions. Think of the babies born and raised in this home!

Parents should remember two things when discipling their children: Rules without relationship will lead to rebellion. And a relationship with no rules will result in a shipwreck. Believers of all ages need to be taught to be a holy light in our community. Every family is just a step away from looking like Jacob’s. A balanced and God-centered life comes when we are in God’s Word daily and seek to do the Word.

Application Points

  • Is your home a worshipful place? Does your family walk with God or take your own path? An attitude of worship makes the difference between a sinful, dysfunctional family and a God-centered one. What can you do to lead your family in that direction this week?
  • You know that every person is made in the image of God. But do you live like you know it? Do you show respect and value for even those you don’t get along with, especially in the family of believers?
  • Dads, do you love to be home? If not, that is a symptom of deeper issues that you need to recognize and deal with. Moms, are you a 1 Peter 3 woman when your husband is struggling, or do you just react and scheme to get your way? Get right with God, and then determine together to lead your family in a Spirit-governed way.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore:
  • Galatians 6:1 – How to gently restore a Christian caught in sin.

A Hymn to Encourage: “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting”

Jesus, I am resting, resting
In the joy of what thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon thee,
As thy beauty fills my soul,
For by thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.

Jesus, I am resting, resting
In the joy of what thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of thy loving heart.

O how great thy lovingkindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
O how marvelous thy goodness
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in thee, Beloved,
Know what wealth of grace is thine,
Know thy certainty of promise
And have made it mine.

Simply trusting thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold thee as thou art,
And thy love, so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets, supplies its ev'ry need,
Compasseth me round with blessings:
Thine is love indeed.

Ever lift thy face upon me
As I work and wait for thee;
Resting 'neath thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth's dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father's glory,
Sunshine of my Father's face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting,
Fill me with thy grace.