Humility; April 20, 2021

Genesis 32:10 “I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups.”

This was something of a pivotal moment for Jacob. The humility and gratitude he expresses here were certainly not characteristic of him to this point! He was used to getting by on the strength of his wits, taking advantage of the weaknesses of others, but here it dawns on him just how gracious God has been to him. We are so often like him! As I tell people in my premarital counseling sessions, one of the things I like about the Bible is that it presents people as they are, not covering over their faults. The record of the Patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – is in stark contrast to the “historical” records of other cultures, because they are presented as real, fallible people, rather than idealized heroes. Here, God used Esau to give Jacob a reality check, so to speak. Jacob knew that he had “done dirt” to his brother. The Bible records that “Esau despised his birthright,” (Genesis 25:34) but Jacob despised his twin brother! As 12-step programs and the like emphasize, the first step to recovery is acknowledging you have a problem. Here, Jacob is forced to realize that he could not have gotten to where he was without the grace of God. God wasn’t through breaking his pride, but this was an important first step. We can avoid a lot of breaking if we acknowledge our dependence on God from the outset!

As I am frequently reminded, pride has always been a snare for me. I don’t think I’ve ever done to anyone the way Jacob did to Esau, but I’ve done more than my share of despising others in my heart, placing them in my mind on a lower level than me. Jesus said that was equivalent to murder! (Matthew 5:22) I have been enormously blessed, but very little if any of it was by my own doing. In the first place, I certainly didn’t select my genetics or my home background! Many things have come easily to me that I have seen others struggle at, but instead of gratitude, I have been prone to conceit. There are certainly things I am NOT good at, like running, but I have set those aside in my mind as unimportant. I don’t want to be “a legend in my own mind” and fail to bless others by fulfilling the tasks God has for me. As I am frequently reminded, from God’s viewpoint, differences between human abilities are like “acorns comparing height,” to use the Japanese proverb. Absolutely nothing I have was generated by me, so I am to use it all in grateful obedience to the One who gave it to me.

Father, thank You indeed for Your amazing grace toward me. May I be the servant, the son, that You want me to be, doing Your will faithfully, drawing others to You in true discipleship – on my part and theirs – for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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