Today’s AMI QT Devotional is provided by Jennifer Kim. Jennifer, a graduate of Boston University, spent a year in Shanghai as one-year intern from 2013-14. She is currently serving as a staff at Catalyst Agape Church (New Jersey), while attending Alliance Theological Seminary.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
The Cost of Ungodly Gain
So Esau bore a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him; and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” 42 Now when the words of her elder son Esau were reported to Rebekah, she sent and called her younger son Jacob, and said to him, “Behold your brother Esau is consoling himself concerning you by planning to kill you. 43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice, and arise, flee to Haran, to my brother Laban! 44 Stay with him a few days, until your brother’s fury subsides, 45 until your brother’s anger against you subsides and he forgets what you did to him. Then I will send and get you from there. Why should I be bereaved of you both in one day?”
I have a vivid memory of when I was six years old, being filled with so much pain and confusion as I saw my dad leave on a cab headed to the airport. My parents had made the decision to open up a new branch of their business in Brazil in hopes of fulfilling the American dream for their kids, while my mom continued to run their business in New York and taking care of my ten-year-old brother and myself. Looking back, my parents could never have imagined the cost of their decision: a family divided for over two decades with consequences that our family is still overcoming.
Today’s passage is no different: Rebekah’s desire to see her son Jacob receive the blessing from Isaac cost her the unity of her family and much more. Esau plots to kill Jacob for stealing Isaac’s blessing, and Rebekah has no choice but to send Jacob away to spare his life. In the next five chapters, we read Jacob’s story of his new wives (Gn. 29), the birth of his sons (Gn. 30:1-24), the prosperity Jacob gains (Gn. 30:25-43), and the ultimate reunion with Esau (Gn. 32-33). Commentaries conclude that period spanned over twenty years, and sometime during this period, Rebekah died without ever seeing her son Jacob again. While Rebekah probably had the best of intentions for Jacob, the consequences of her sins led to division and strife—and ultimately, she never got to see her son again.
What we can learn from this story is that good intentions will always fall short—if our desires are for ungodly personal gain. While my parents simply wanted the best for our family—the same way Rebekah wanted the best for Jacob—their desires were of worldly blessings that came at a cost. We must recognize that true blessings come when we align ourselves to the will of God, for His ways are greater than our ways. While I am happy to share that my dad permanently moved back home to the United States in 2016, it cost my family nineteen years of missed birthdays, holidays, and special events. But most of all, it cost us our family bond, for we had to start from scratch to rebuild the divided relationships of our family, due to the separation that was done all in the name of good intentions.
Today, I want to challenge us to examine any area of our lives in which we are working hard towards something, and ask ourselves whether we are pursuing that to honor the Lord or with simply good intentions, regardless of the cost. May we be people who seek God’s ways above our personal desires, so that we may fall in alignment to God’s blessings in our lives.
Prayer: God, I thank You that Your ways are always good. Forgive me for the times that I have not pursued Your plans and desires in my life. Help me to trust that Your ways lead to life, and that I may walk in alignment with Your will for my life. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 45
Lunch Break Study
Read Genesis 32:24-29: Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.”
Questions to Consider
- Amidst all the deceiving that Jacob performed throughout his life, why did God bless Jacob?
- Why did God give Jacob a new name?
- In what area do you need to wrestle with God to overcome certain struggles, so that God may bless you?
- Jacob’s persistence and desire to be blessed by God caused Him to bless Jacob, regardless of his past.
- So that he would no longer be identified as a deceiver but as one who has prevailed.
- Personal response.
Take time to reflect on your day to examine whether you may have operated in ways that was out of alignment with God’s ways. Maybe you found yourself working for personal gain at work or school; or maybe you did something in the name of good intentions without thinking about the cost. Lift these areas to the Lord and wrestle with God to overcome your temptations so that God may bless you!