Day 13 Devotional & Discussion – March 4, 2015

Genesis 30:25-43

Once the second contract expired, Jacob was ready to quit and return to his home. How does Laban respond to Jacob turning in his resignation? What power does Jacob have in this third contract negotiation? How do you think Laban’s ongoing treatment of Jacob has changed Jacob? What do you think is Jacob’s motive in staying in this toxic work environment?

Have you ever told your employer to “take this job and shove it?”  Even if you just wanted to say it, why did you feel that way?  Why do you think people stay in bad work environments?

Laban tried to defraud Jacob of the agreed upon wages while Jacob acted to sabotage Laban’s business through creative animal husbandry.  Both men mistrust the other and act to destroy the other.  What motivates each of them?  Which one is do you think is guilty of the greater sin?  What is the greater sin?

2 comments

  1. Jacob is such a swindler. It seems that out-of-control self-interest motivates them both. I see a victim mentality of sorts. The idea that unless I cheat and steal I’ll miss out on what is due me. That feeling that I will be passed over and mistreated unless I diligently scrape together what is due me. I don’t like it. And I think part of the reason I don’t like it is because I see it come out of me, and I don’t want to be that way. Too Scrooge-like. I think greed is deep down in there somewhere too.

    1. I find this whole scenario fascinating. Would Jacob have acted the way he did if Laban hadn’t swindled him at the end of the first contract? And yes, Jacob sees an opportunity to take advantage of Laban in the midst of the wage negotiation when Laban confesses that God has blessed him through Jacob. But then Laban swindles Jacob again by giving all the striped, speckled and black animals to his sons and moving them to an undisclosed location. Jacob’s creative use of his knowledge of animal husbandry gives him an advantage over Laban–kind of balancing the power.

      Laban has proved himself to be an unscrupulous boss, taking advantage of his employee and using his position of power to ensure that he gets the profits. While neither of them is guiltless, Laban’s continued abuse of power is foundational to the toxic work environment where Jacob has to figure out how to survive. I vote for Laban as the one guilty of the greater sin because he is the one with the greatest amount of power in the relationship. Those with power over others have a special (and daunting) stewardship to use it responsibly and to ensure the wellbeing of those impacted by their power. I immediately think of Jesus’ lesson to his disciples on the use of power in Matthew 20:25-28, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

      If Laban had been a person of integrity and justice, he would have helped (served) Jacob and ensured his success. It makes me realize too that he had very little concern about his daughter’s welfare since he was happy to keep Jacob in a position of subservience.

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