NT Connect: Galatians 1:10
Weekly Reading: Genesis 31-35
Living for Self v. Living for God
As has been mentioned in our OT19: Eden to Exile, it might seem strange to read the Old Testament with an “eye bent toward the New Testament.” However, as we read, we are reminded of the beautiful connection between God’s Word recorded for us in both Testaments of Scripture.
Genesis 31-35 addresses, the story of Laban, his daughters, and their marriage to Jacob. Twenty-first century readers find it difficult to understand the culture and nuances of Old Testament marriage and tribal relationships. Looking at Laban’s attitude and weaknesses, however, we see a strong contrast to how Paul lived as an apostle.
You read this week of Laban’s self-centeredness, his focus on looking out for himself. Oftentimes, we all struggle with the tendency to be selfish, self-centered, and controlling. Laban manipulated others. He failed to see his own weaknesses, and he thought only of “what’s in it for me.”
From Laban’s interactions with Jacob and his deceitfulness we clearly see the harm and hurt that comes when we live only unto ourselves. Selfish living always hurts the many around us.
Now, compare Laban’s attitude with that of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 1:10 (NIV): “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Paul’s first concern was to honor and to follow God’s will and way for his life. Unlike Laban, Paul was not concerned with self-promotion or selfish gain. Rather, Paul sought to please and to honor God.
In Laban, we see a life based on manipulation of others. He pursued personal gain at the expense of fairness to others. He tried to control others for his own benefit. Paul, on the other hand, teaches us a beautiful lesson of seeking God’s approval over that of selfish ambition or over a desire to win the approval of others.
The different results from Laban’s life choices and Paul’s desire to live for an “audience of one” can be seen in the legacies they both left behind. Laban discovered that when one sets out to use and to manipulate others, the results are personally devastating. Paul discovered that when one lives for Christ, placing God’s priorities above selfish gain, the result is receiving God’s pleasure and a life that truly counts.
Let’s pray today that we will live well, that we will live worthy unto Christ.
Senior Pastor, Dr. Tom Smiley