Mending Broken Relationships

j0096269.wmf (18820 bytes)I Am Jacob

When family trouble got out of hand, I went to a far away place and worked as a shepherd. I invite you to look back at my family situation. See what you can learn to better improve the way you handle your relationships.

In the last study we introduced a character with some problems. That character is Jacob. We analyzed his problems and discussed possible solutions. Here are more details of the situation with the scripture references.

When Jacob and Esau were born in Genesis 25 Jacob struggled to be first, grabbing Esau's heel. That event set the tone for a struggle that would define their relationship. Jacob grabbing the heal labeled him with a name indicating an ambitious character. In Genesis 27:36 Esau described him as an outright cheat. Ambition can be a good thing. But it seems that Jacob's ambitions got out of hand. Proverbs 17:19 warns us that self-exalting ambition can lead to destruction. You can see where Jacob's ambitions contributed to the destruction of his family relationships.

But Esau's slate wasn't exactly clean either. In Genesis 25:29-34 he sold his birthright for a bowl of meat. As noted above, when he got what he deserved and failed to get the blessing he whined and blamed Jacob. Any way you slice it, that's selfish. Passages like 1 Corinthians 10:24 forbid us to be selfish. Esau was selfish, refusing to see his own contribution to his troubles. And this made the family problems worse.

No question, these boys' character flaws fed the controversy between them and contributed to the decay of their family. To make it worse Isaac favored Esau while Rebecca favored Jacob. See Genesis 25:28. In 1 Timothy 5:21 Paul counsels us to not be partial. As you sit back and watch the story unfold you can see this partiality come to the surface and deepen the family rift.

As circumstances reached bottom, Esau's hate for Jacob grew. In Genesis 27:41 he hated Jacob so badly, he wanted to kill him. A certain amount of sibling rivalry is expected. But this situation got way out of hand. And it got out of hand because of noticeable, tangible, very fixable problems members of the family had.

But they didn't fix their problems. Rebecca's advice in Genesis 27:6-13 was ungodly, showing her favoritism and feeding the problem. She counseled Jacob to be dishonest. He already had the birthright. Why lie? And notice that she assured him she would take responsibility for the deception. But in Genesis 27:45 she spoke to Jacob about being hated because of what HE had done. What happened to her pledge to take all the blame? And why would Isaac think to give the blessing to a son who had despised his birthright? He was still showing his favoritism too.

We could point to more problems that contributed to their family rift, but we've seen enough to get the idea. Now to the solution. Eventually, Rebecca advised Jacob to leave the country. And that's what Jacob did. It seems this was all part of God's plan, given the fact this led to him finding Rachel. God spoke to Jacob several times while he was away. And when the time was right, Jacob returned home.

In Genesis 33:1-16 Jacob and Esau meet back up. Jacob was humble and generous in the gifts he gives. Esau's angry heart had healed with the passing of time. The old family rift was mended. What it took was time, humility, generosity, forgiveness and a little growing up.

Do you have any broken relationships you'd like to mend? You see in this story elements that can cause problems and procedures to fix problems. Why don't you get busy and do something about relationships in your life? Work to overcome your character flaws. That can head off trouble in the future. And when things do get out of hand, look in the mirror and fix what needs fixing.
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For This Study

Who Am I And What Should I Do?
It's absolutely amazing! Today I saw something I've never seen before. Seeing what I've seen opens up a whole new world to me. It's beyond wonderful. It defies explanation. I feel such a sense of joy and gratitude for what has happened. But others around me don't share my state of mind.

Ever since this great event I've been getting pressure. Religious leaders are giving me the third degree. They treat me like I've done something wrong. But I haven't done anything. I just saw something very special. None the less, they continue to assail me with questions.

At a time when I needed those close to me the most, they turned their backs on me. Don't they understand what I've seen and how special it is? How can they betray me and leave me to the wolves? Now I stand alone, amazed, thankful, yet troubled. Blessed, yet betrayed. Who am I and what should I do?