“And Jacob saw the countenance of Laban, and indeed it was not favorable toward him as before. Then the Lord said to Jacob, ‘Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you.’”—Genesis 31:2-3 (NKJV)
Have you ever been taken advantage of or treated unfairly? Were you confused on what you should do about it? Did you wonder if God had an opinion on what you should do? Is there even a “right” thing for a Christian to do in such a situation?
We could all probably answer “yes” to all of the above. At one time or another all of us have been, are, or will be there. And truth be told, few things rattle us more than knowing we’re being treated wrongly. Which is why today’s devotion is so important, because it gives us spiritual insight on what to do when we find ourselves in this dilemma.
To catch us up on the story, Jacob was being taken advantage of by his uncle, Laban. As Jacob worked for his uncle, he slowly but steadily earned equity through breeding livestock. God providentially blessed Jacob over the years, even to the point of stirring up jealousy in Laban, who would alter their agreements over and over to gain advantage over his nephew.
The time came; however, when God intervened and essentially said, “No more . . . it’s time to leave . . .I will make a way out of this for you.” This sets a mini-exodus in motion where Jacob leaves Laban and the bondage that had come to define their relationship.
Let’s take a moment to notice the sequence of things. Jacob had endured and persevered under unfair treatment. He didn’t run or rush out at the first opportunity. He stayed put and did not bolt, because as far as he knew this was the place the Lord had led him to. And it was. His time with Laban was a necessary chapter in God building Jacob up, both physically and spiritually.
Yet God was taking note all along of Laban’s mistreatment and the time came when it was time to leave, which Jacob did. This doesn’t mean we’re to always abide in an abusive situation (note: there’s a big difference between abuse and being taken advantage of), but it does remind us that we’re to be moved by God’s guidance rather than man’s mistreatment.
This is a hard, but important, lesson for those who seek spiritual maturity. Being taken advantage of will happen to us, and when it does we must respond according to God’s direction not our impulses, even if His direction is to patiently endure because only He knows what’s working for our ultimate good amidst a bad situation.
DIG: What moved Jacob to leave Laban?
DISCOVER: What points of Jacob’s story can you personally relate to?
DO: What’s the best way to respond to being taken advantage of?