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July 5, 2020 | Doug Sauder
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“He spent the night there, and from what he had with him he selected a gift for his brother Esau: two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. He put them in the care of his servants, each herd by itself, and said to his servants, ‘Go ahead of me, and keep some space between the herds.’ He instructed the one in the lead: ‘When my brother Esau meets you and asks, ‘Who do you belong to, and where are you going, and who owns all these animals in front of you?’ then you are to say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau, and he is coming behind.’ He also instructed the second, the third and all the others who followed the herds: ‘You are to say the same thing to Esau when you meet him. And be sure to say, ‘Your servant Jacob is coming behind us,’ For he thought, ‘I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.’ So Jacob’s gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp.”—Genesis 32:13-21 (NIV)
Yesterday, we discussed Jacob’s wise and faithful response to the scary possibility of Esau executing his revenge. At the end of his prayer, he reiterates the promise God made him which realigns his mindset and guides his next steps. As a result, he prepares an extravagant gift for his brother as a display of his apology and hopes for reconciliation. I can almost picture it. Hundreds of bleating goats followed by hundreds of fluffy sheep followed by camels, cows, bulls, and donkeys as far as the eye can see! I can only imagine how it must have smelled!
Jacob’s response reminds me of a certain instance where I also offered my brother a sort of gift as an apology. To set the scene for you, my brother and I have always been major foodies, so we have had our share of irrational quarrels regarding food. In this particular instance, we were arguing over who would get the last Chick-Fil-A Honey Mustard sauce. As days went by and the sauce seemed to be forgotten, I secretly consumed it alongside some fries without his knowledge. I remember feeling sincerely sorry upon noticing his hurt when he found out I had eaten it behind his back.
Later that day, I invited him to secretly munch on some cookies without my parents knowing. Although it seems insignificant, this act of kindness, trust, and generosity softened my brother’s heart to remind him of my love and compel him to forgive my mistake.
Although my story doesn’t even come close to Jacob and Esau’s story, comparing the two reminded me of the value of a thoughtful expression of love. More important than our physical gifts was our attitude towards the one whom we wanted to make amends with. Much like how I apologized to my brother through humbly presenting him with something for failing to share with him earlier, Jacob demonstrated his love and pleaded for forgiveness by valuing, respecting, and serving Esau like he failed to do in the past.
Jacob’s humility before the Lord, which we observed yesterday through his prayer, formed in him a humility before his brother. Having known the grace and mercy of God from personal experience, Jacob could now approach his brother with an attitude of meekness completely opposite of the attitude he had once before when he deceived him. I hope the grace God has shown us would humble us to be both gracious and graceful towards others as well!
DIG: Read Philippians 2:3-4. How did Jacob regard Esau as more important than himself? What did this show about God’s work in his heart?
DISCOVER: In Luke 6:27-36, Jesus talks about loving our enemies. How does Jacob’s actions towards Esau line up with what Jesus said?
DO: Perhaps there is someone you need to apologize to or forgive. Think about Jacob’s humbled heart. Allow God to humble your heart today so you may love both your neighbors and your enemies today!