Honesty and cunning
Genesis 30: 42
Genesis 30: 42b – 31: 3
42b Soon Laban had all the weak animals, and Jacob all the healthy ones. 43 In this way Jacob became very wealthy. He had many flocks, slaves, camels, and donkeys.
(Chapter 31) Jacob heard that Laban's sons were saying, “Jacob has taken everything that belonged to our father. He got all his wealth from what our father owned.” 2 He also saw that Laban was no longer as friendly as he had been earlier. 3 Then the Lord said to him, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives. I will be with you.”
So now Jacob is a wealthy man – at the expense of his uncle.
Does this give him satisfaction?
Does he reflect on how he came by his riches? Is wealth, however gained, enough?
Human nature hasn’t changed much - today’s inequalities may give us pause for thought – the rich get richer and the poor get food banks.
Of course there are honest, hardworking, generous rich people, but honesty, hard work and generosity are no guarantee of success, and many people find these qualities seem to do them no good at all in worldly terms.
Most of us would say we couldn’t sleep at night if we had acted dishonestly, or exploited the goodwill of others – but some think prosperity is itself a sign of blessing and blame the poor for their own plight. How easy to shrug off responsibility for our brothers and sisters in this unequal world.
God of truth,
we struggle with stories like that of Jacob,
where deception seems to bring reward.
You promised Jacob that you would be with him,
you would bless and prosper him –
and he took that as licence.
And we take advantage of our neighbours,
our relatives –
and of you,
when we think we can do what we like
and count on your promises of mercy.
Forgive us, God of truth,
show us the way of integrity,
and the peace that comes from following it.