Sermon Jan. 25, 2015 “When You’ve Had Enough, and You Know You’re Right” Genesis 31:22-55

Jan 25, 2015                                                                                              Genesis Sermon # 11

Genesis 31:22-55            “When You’ve Had Enough, and You Know You’re Right”

Pastor Louis Prontnicki                                 Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church

 31:36 Jacob was angry and took Laban to task. “What is my crime?” he asked Laban. “What sin have I committed that you hunt me down? 37 Now that you have searched through all my goods, what have you found that belongs to your household? Put it here in front of your relatives and mine, and let them judge between the two of us. 38 “I have been with you for twenty years now. Your sheep and goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten rams from your flocks. 39 I did not bring you animals torn by wild beasts; I bore the loss myself. And you demanded payment from me for whatever was stolen by day or night. 40 This was my situation: The heat consumed me in the daytime and the cold at night, and sleep fled from my eyes. 41 It was like this for the twenty years I was in your household. I worked for you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks, and you changed my wages ten times. 42 If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, you would surely have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you.” 43 Laban answered Jacob, “The women are my daughters, the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks. All you see is mine. Yet what can I do today about these daughters of mine, or about the children they have borne? 44 Come now, let’s make a covenant, you and I, and let it serve as a witness between us.”

Let’s say that you’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism… for years! Perhaps your boss has been impossible to work for, or there’s a co-worker who always has you in her target sights. Maybe your spouse or a sibling has made life miserable for you for decades. But you’ve held it in; you haven’t said anything, and you’ve tried to be long suffering. But one day the other person pushes you over your limit, and you say to yourself, “That’s it! I’ve had enough of his lies! I’ve had enough of her attacks! I know I am right, and I am going to unload all my frustrations at this person, like a dump truck!

We see this happening in Genesis 31:36-44. Jacob, after 20 years of a simmering frustration with Laban, finally vents his anger at his father in law. He says “I’ve had enough! And I know I am right, and I’m sounding off!”

What are we to make of Jacob’s speech to Laban, and what can we learn from it? 3 things:

 

When you feel that you’ve had enough, and you think that you know you’re right…

I. Let the Facts Speak for Themselves.

Jacob doesn’t just vent or rant at Laban; rather he recalls the facts of the matter to witness for his side, as He defends His family and what he has worked so hard for. (vv. 36-42)

Jacob here is not a wimp or a doormat, even in the face of the threats from Laban and his henchmen. He defends his integrity, his generosity, and his work ethic of 20 years (vv. 38-41). He really gives a great defense speech, letting the facts speak for themselves.

Application: When you are unjustly accused or badgered, there are times when we do need to speak up, especially in defense of our loved ones. Jesus was quite forthright when responding to the false accusations of His enemies. Paul wasn’t afraid to speak boldly and claim his rights as a Roman citizen, when it would further the cause of the gospel.

But here’s where we need God’s wisdom and grace: How do you turn the other cheek (Mt. 5:39) and yet not end up as everyone’s doormat, unnecessarily? One way is to prayerfully think through a checklist of safeguards before you speak to defend yourself. So ask yourself:

– Is it true? Yes, Jacob spoke truth here. It was the record of his 20 years with Laban.

– Is it loving? Yes, Jacob loved his family, and he spoke up to protect them.

– Is it timely? Jacob had to speak up NOW, or perhaps lose his family.

– Is it God-honoring? Yes, in v. 42, Jacob attributes his protection to the Lord, who was with Him, who has seen his hardships, and who has rebuked his accuser, Laban.

So, when you’re between a rock and a hard place, let the facts speak for themselves, but first ask: are they true? What’s my motivation? Is this the best time? Will my words honor the Lord?

And then let the Holy Spirit use them in the other person’s heart. Don’t force it. You are not in control; you can’t make the other person respond the way you want him to…but you CAN speak the truth in love and let the Holy Spirit work.

 

When you feel that you’ve had enough, and you think that you know you’re right…

II. You Still Don’t Know the Whole Story! Jacob does not know the whole truth, even though he has almost all of his facts correct. Jacob asserts to Laban in v. 32 “But if you find anyone who has your gods, he shall not live. In the presence of our relatives, see for yourself whether there is anything of yours here with me; and if so, take it.” Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the gods.”

So while Jacob is right about all the other facts of how Laban has treated him for those 20 years, and about all he has suffered under his cruel oversight, ironically, Jacob is dead wrong about the one thing that Laban specifically accuses his family of: stealing his household gods! (v. 30)

This tells us that even on our best days, even when we have carefully researched the facts, even when we have presented the best case for our side, even when we think we must be right…even then, we don’t know the whole truth! So Jacob declares that if Laban finds anyone in his family who has stolen the household gods, that person shall not live! He dares Laban to find what he has accused them of stealing. But he has no clue that his dear wife, Rachel, is sitting on them at this very moment!

Application: This should humble us and give us pause, when we are positive that we are right, in a disagreement, an argument. Only God knows the whole story, and He will reveal all things when Jesus comes again. Only God is omniscient. We would do well to remember the admonition of James 1:19, that we ought to quick to listen, slow to speak, ad slow to become angry.

Personal illustration: I recently found out something about a person, that years after a big problem with this person, revealed to me why this person was so upset and so insistent about their viewpoint. I still think I was right, but I didn’t know the whole story, and looking back, I should have had more sympathy.

We never know the whole story… so tread humbly! Only God knows the whole story!

 

When you feel that you’ve had enough, and you think that you know you’re right…

III. Seek to Make Peace.

Jacob has laid out the facts as he knows them. He could be bitter against Laban for these 20 years of oppression and manipulation. Jacob could have blown a gasket in exasperation when Laban insists (v. 43) that “The women are my daughters, the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks. All you see is mine. [That’s so untrue; yet perception is reality for the stubborn and blind.] But we see the grace of God here when Jacob responds positively to Laban’s offer in v. 44 “Come now, let’s make a covenant, you and I, and let it serve as a witness between us.”

Jacob allows for there to be a sort of reconciliation between Laban and himself. (True, it’s more of a mutual non-aggression treaty than a deep heart to heart reconciliation, but it’s better than continued fighting and hatred.) After 20 years of scheming against each other, God gives them the grace to at least depart from one another in some peace. (Note: this will ease the way for Jacob’s reconciliation with Esau in Gen. 32)

Application: Try to be at peace with all people, as far as it is possible with you.

Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

This is the counterweight to taking revenge, to repaying evil for evil, (v. 17), which Jacob could have plotted against Laban. It is not enough to refrain from seeking revenge or to get even; we must take the initiative in positive peacemaking. (Mt. 5:9)   Ask yourself:  Are you a Peace Breaker? A Peace Faker? Or a Peace Maker?

Note the two qualifications: “If it is possible”, “as far as it depends on you.” Peace and reconciliation are not always possible, in part because it also depends on the other person involved. Romans 14:19 “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”

 

Let’s put all this in the perspective of Jesus Christ.

For Jesus Christ Had “More than Enough”, and He Was 100% Right!

Jesus Christ alone knew all the facts. He alone knew the whole story. He knows what we have stolen from God. He alone knew what was in the heart of every person.    And yet He came as the ultimate peacemaker. He absorbed all the lies and hurts and abuse and sins in His body, and made peace with God for us.

As I read Ephesians 2:14-17, let’s substitute Jacob and Laban for Jew and Gentile, the “two” whom Jesus made into “one” through His work of atonement on the cross. In other words, if Jacob and Laban had lived in a New Testament church, God would have taken their non-aggression treaty and made it into something far more wonderful; He would have reconciled them to each other as one man, in Christ Jesus!

   Ephesians 2:14 “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.”

So, when you think you’ve had enough, you think you know the whole story, and you think you’re right… humble yourself/ repent/ and consider Jesus… both what He did to make peace for us (between us and God, and between one another)… and as we read in

Hebrews 12:2-3

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”