How To Handle A Hater (Genesis 31)


Reality shows are popular usually for one reason and one reason only – the drama. There’s just something about the betrayal, the arguments, and those scathing, furious fights that thrill us, and even satisfy us, especially when the person clearly in the wrong gets their behind handed to them.

We get to taste some of that same satisfaction in today’s episode of Jacob and His Crazy Family. Jacob has decided that he’s had enough of his greedy, selfish, deceiving uncle and father-in-law Laban, and plans to run off. Not only does God second the decision to leave, Jacob’s wives agree that their dad is an overall bad person and that they want to be away from him. The family runs off while Laban is away, leaving him unaware of their departure and unable to stop Rachel from swiping his household gods. Was she going to pray to them for more children?

It doesn’t take long for Laban to find out that his son-in-law, his daughters, and his grandchildren have all peaced out. He sets out after them and by the time he catches up, he is hopping mad. Here’s our showdown. Despite God’s warning to Laban the night before that he should not “say anything, good or bad” to Jacob (verse 24), Laban lets loose and accuses Jacob of stealing not only his daughters and grandchildren, but his possessions. Jacob is highly offended and essentially dares Laban to find something of his among Jacob’s belongings, promising to kill whoever has stolen the gods. Obviously, he didn’t know his own wife – his favorite one, no doubt – was the thief.

Rachel is a smart thief, though, and hides the gods in a saddle before sitting on it and claiming to be on her menses so that Laban wouldn’t go near her. It works. Laban turns up empty-handed, and now it’s Jacob’s turn to tell Laban off. He angrily delivers each damning detail about how Laban has treated him for the past twenty years. Laban can only listen, and then fire back that all of Jacob’s possessions are really his. Then, surprisingly, he relents and asks his nephew to make up with him. The two men make a covenant and promise before God and all their relatives to leave each other alone for good. Jacob agrees and Laban kisses his children and grandchildren goodbye for the last time.

The Treasures Within:

Winning The Argument

You can feel Jacob’s anger in this chapter. This man has been through a lot. Twenty years ago, he came to Paddan Aram only to find a wife; instead he found a prison sentence. He was trapped into serving fourteen years for the privilege of marrying his wives, one of whom was forced on him; and he served six years more just for some flocks of his own. His paycheck had been changed on him ten times. He worked his behind off in all kinds of weather, taking the fall for all the mishaps that shepherds deal with, and he was sick and tired of it! So he told Laban this. And boy, did he tell him good.

Jacob’s anger and indignation seemed to do the trick. Laban backed down almost immediately. You almost want to give Jacob a round of applause or at least a good mmmhmm! or you tell him! It’s the satisfying end that we all take notes on, hoping to one day burn our own haters just as good. But, really now, did Jacob do all that much?

I imagine Jacob shouting and sweating, his face red, gesturing with his hands and arms, essentially doing exactly what Laban was doing. He was stooping to his level, wasting time and energy while all the while God had solved his problem. Had not God said in verse 3 that He would be with Jacob as he traveled back home? Had not God warned Laban in verse 24 not to come at Jacob? Even though Laban ultimately ignored God, the fact that God had delivered that message showed that whatever Laban attempted would be a lost cause. Jacob should have known that. But he fought tooth and nail anyway.

Getting even, fighting, and arguing are all super satisfying. It’s nice to be right. It’s nice to hear ourselves talk. It’s nice to get the upper hand. But more often than not our pride and anger only serve to make us look stupid. Here we are, claiming to be Christians, claiming to believe in a God who hung the earth on nothing and knows the end from the beginning, fighting as if all we have in this world is our own hard heads. We’ve got to have more faith than that. God can handle our haters much more eloquently than we can. Vengeance is his. This truth goes against everything that is naturally in us. The worst feeling is feeling as if the other person won. But we can’t focus on claiming a personal victory. God has already won. He overcame the entire world just for us. We need to stop our fussing and walk in faith like the children of God we are.

God’s Message To Us:

“I already took care of it.” Our lack of faith comes across in so many ways: fighting, worrying, fearing. If only we would stop our stressing long enough to hear God’s voice, reminding us over and over again that He’s got this! When we compare our limited knowledge to the fact that He is the Beginning and the End and when we compare our limited strength to the strength of the One who held the sun still in the sky and when we compare our small concerns with the uncountable blessings He has for us – things start to look a little different. Remember who God is. Remember what He is willing to do for you. Ask God for faith in His perfect control. Then watch your cares and concerns grow strangely dim.

What do you think? What did you learn from this chapter of the Bible? Why do you think God wrote this chapter of the Bible for you?

2 thoughts on “How To Handle A Hater (Genesis 31)

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