Summary: Through the grace of God in Jesus Christ, we recieve more than what we deserve.
A donkey and a fox went into partnership and sallied out to forage for food together. They hadn’t gone far before they saw a lion coming their way, at which they were both dreadfully frightened. But the fox thought he saw a way of saving his own skin, and went boldly up to the lion and whispered in his ear, “I’ll manage that you shall get hold of the donkey without the trouble of stalking him, if you’ll promise to let me go free.” The lion agreed to this, and the fox then rejoined his companion and contrived before long to lead him by a hidden pit, which some hunter had dug as a trap for wild animals, and into which he fell. When the Lion saw that the donkey was safely caught and couldn’t get away, it was to the fox that he first turned his attention, and he soon finished him off, and then at his leisure proceeded to feast upon the donkey.
Through the ages, Aesop’s Fables have provided a moral guide in his timeless stories. These are simple truths that every generation must learn; pride goes before the fall, that one can be too clever for his own good, and in today’s story, that you do reap what you sow. In the end, the fox sealed his own fate. He was trapped by his own treachery, and he got what he deserved. The trickster was tricked and he got what was coming to him.
This is a principle we all learn at an early age. If you put in the work, you will receive your wage. If you go the extra mile, you will find success. But if you only do just enough to get by, that is all you will do, get by.
This is also a life principle that we learn from Scripture. 2 Corinthians 9:6 teaches us that “the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” Job tells us that “those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.” The truth is this, you get out of life exactly what you put into it, justice is served, and we all receive our wages according to our labor.
This principle is also evident in our reading this morning from Genesis. Jacob has made his way in the world by deception and trickery. He displaced his brother, deceived his father, but now the table has been turned. The trickster is tricked, the fox is trapped, Jacob’s past has finally caught up with him.
The way that Jacob was snared in Laban’s trap was really quite ingenious. Jacob had come to live with his uncle Laban, escaping the wrath of his brother, Esau, so Laban put him to work. As they set up their contract, Laban said to Jacob, “I can’t have you work for free, so tell me, what will be your wage for your service?”
Implied in his question we can find the groundwork for Laban’s trap. The Hebrew word for wage implies a reward for faithfulness, a payment for the moral quality of an action. By entering into the bargain, Jacob’s history of moral deficiency predetermined what his reward would be.
When Jacob offered to work seven years in exchange for Laban’s daughter Rachel in marriage, Laban’s replied with a carefully worded answer. “It is better for me to give her to you than to give her to someone else.” Notice that he never mentioned Rachel’s name. Laban intended from the very beginning to give Leah away first, and if he had to do it by deceiving his own nephew, so be it. So when Jacob worked his seven years, he is trapped into marrying Leah, and then forced to work another seven to receive Rachel.
This is justice. Jacob got his due, he received exactly what he deserved. He had lived a life of dishonesty, and his reward, his payment, was dishonesty. Jacob received payment for the moral quality of his life. Even though he had been chosen by God and blessed by his father, Jacob could not escape God’s justice.
Is this fair? Is it right for God’s chosen one to be treated so? Nowhere does scripture allow that the elect are immune from God’s discipline and punishment. In fact, it is just the opposite. The Lord says to his chosen people in Amos, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” Hebrews encourages the chosen of God saying, “My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him; for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts.” Because God loves his children, he disciplines them, often allowing them to experience the result of their sinful ways and desires, allowing them to know the depravity of their being.