One of the settled principles in God’s creation is this: “Whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). Perhaps it would do us well to recognize God is with us. He watches us. He preserves us. And he disciplines us.
One of Jacob’s problems was his self-serving spirit, a spirit that led him to lie. But he was not the only one on earth capable of bending the truth. Laban was quite good at it as well. The parallels between Jacob’s deceit of his vision-impaired father and Laban’s nighttime deceit of his future son-in-law are obvious. The deceiver became the deceived.
“For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:8). This must have been a bitter pill for Jacob to swallow. Suddenly, he was a polygamist! And his wives, we will learn, didn’t even like each other. Such is life as we sow to our own flesh. The result is corruption and decay and pain. As it went with Adam and Eve, so it went with Jacob.
But in all of this, God was still at work. In all of this turmoil, and in all of the turmoil that would ensue from this mixed-up family of Jacob’s, the promise of God still was moving forward. Twelve sons would become twelve tribes, and one son would deliver them all. Later descendants would guide the family into freedom, would grant them God’s Law, and would plant them in the Promised Land.
The story, of course, is marred over and over by just the sort of sowing and reaping that was evident in Jacob’s life. And still, the promise of God remained embedded in this chosen people.
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Hebrews 12:5-6; also Proverbs 3:11-12).
We ought to pay close attention to the difficult things in life, both big and small, that we face (John 9:1-3). While it isn’t necessarily wise to try to connect those mishaps back to some particular sin we’ve committed, it also isn’t wise to regard our trials and tribulations “lightly.” In our walk with God, he is always seeking to bring us out of our sinfulness. He wants his glory to be displayed in us, who are the bearers of his image.
And as Christians, those of us who have put our faith in Jesus Christ, we know that his promises are sure. Neither our sins nor the Lord’s discipline will cancel out the promises for those who trust in Him.