One characteristic of human nature that God does not like is the effect of favouritism and its resulting unfairness and potential to create prejudice. This is evident in our readings today in Genesis. We see God’s reaction to Jacob’s favouritism toward Rachel and his dislike of Leah. Rachel was party to this as is evident from Leah’s comment, “You have taken away my husband” (30:15) and Leah’s approach to Jacob, “I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes” (verse 16).
We must be thankful that from the time of Christ, the principle of one man one wife that God established at the beginning was restored. There is no indication that the descendants of Seth had more than one wife and Noah certainly didn’t. Prejudice is also evident among the sons of Laban, for while they acknowledged the blessings that came during the first fourteen years that Jacob was with them, they resent Jacob providing for his own household (31:1) and even Rachel and Leah came to be regarded by him as “foreigners” (verse 15).
This is a lesson for those who benefit from situations not of their making to act wisely and without prejudice when those blessings cease.
There is another example of the curse of favouritism found in the prejudice that occurs between the sons of Jacob because of his favouritism toward Joseph. Yet the remarkable thing is that in several of these situations, God makes use of human prejudices and jealousies, for He gives us freewill and sometimes weaves His foreknowledge of human action to fit in with His ordained end. “For those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
We must realize this is for the good of His purpose; it might not necessarily seem to be for ours at the time, such as when Joseph was put into the pit by his brothers! Paul’s words to the Philippians are instructive; he says that some people do things (in this case, preaching) “from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love …” (1:15,16).
But whatever the motive, says Paul, “Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice” (verse 18). Let love motivate us in all that we do. Remember how Jesus said his followers should be mindful of God’s example and “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44) illustrating this by how God did not show favouritism in the provision of the sun and the rain.