Summary: If you want true peace, don’t look down on some with disdain; don’t look up on others with jealousy; and don’t look within at your own schemes. Instead, look to the Lord. Trust Him with your life, and you will find true peace.
A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her class of five and six-year-olds. After explaining the commandment to honor thy father and thy mother, she asked, “Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?”
Without missing a beat, one little boy answered, “Thou shall not kill.” (Bill White, Paramount, California; www.Preaching Today.com)
Sometimes, brothers and sisters in the family feel like “killing” each other, but God calls us to live in peace with one another. The question is: How can we learn to live in peace, even when we feel like killing each other? How can brothers and sisters in God’s family learn to get along and resolve their differences even when those differences seem so insurmountable?
Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Genesis 29, Genesis 29, where we see Jacob’s family embroiled in one whopper of a fight, but we also learn how we can avoid such fights in the family of God.
Genesis 29:30 Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. (NIV)
Here is the root of the problem in Jacob’s family – favoritism. “Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah.” It started with his parents: his dad favored his brother, and his mom favored him. Now, Jacob favors one wife over the other; and later on, he is going to favor one son over all the rest. Favoritism leads to nothing but trouble in Jacob’s family. Look at what happens here:
Genesis 29:31-35 When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.” She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon. Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi. She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children. (NIV)
Leah, the unloved wife, is hurting deeply. You can see it in the names she gives her children: Reuben, which means “God sees my misery;” Simeon, which means “God hears my cry;” Levi, which means “attached,” longing for her husband to become attached to her; and Judah, which means “praise,” hoping that she can praise the Lord again. Leah is a woman in pain – unseen, unheard, and unloved by her husband, but she looks to the Lord who sees, hears, and loves her.
The fact is God shows more favor to the one who is less favored. Leah is the only one having children right now, and two of her children will head up two of the most important tribes in Israel. Levi’s descendants will become priests in Israel, and Judah descendants will rule on the throne of Israel as kings. In fact, the Messiah Himself, Jesus, our Lord, will be a descendant of Judah.
God loves the unloved. God favors the least favored. God chooses those the rest of the world rejects. So we better be careful about showing favoritism, because we could find ourselves opposing God. And as a result, we could find ourselves causing a lot of trouble just like Jacob did.
Do we want to live in peace in God’s family? Do we want to overcome the differences that sometimes divide us? Then God would say to all of us…
DON’T LOOK DOWN on anyone in the family.
Down reject any of God’s children. Don’t despise those god has chosen to glorify himself. Don’t minimize their importance simply because they don’t meet your external standards of beauty, intelligence, or strength.
Henri Nouwen was a world-renowned clergyman and professor at places like Harvard and Yale. Yet during the last decade of his life, he felt led of God to live in a community of people with severe emotional, mental, and physical disabilities.
In one of his many books, Henri Nouwen tells a story about Trevor, a man with severe mental and emotional challenges who was sent by the community to a psychiatric facility for evaluation. Henri wanted to see him, so he called the hospital to arrange a visit. When those in authority found out that Henri Nouwen was coming, they asked if they could have a lunch with him in the Golden Room – a special meeting room at the facility. They would also invite doctors and other clergy to the special luncheon. Henri agreed.