My second job as a young man was as a fountain worker at Friendly’s (read: I worked in an ice cream shop). Due to this particular ice cream shop’s location next to a movie theatre and a mall (remember: I worked there before amazon was a real thing) it was very busy even in the winter time. You honestly wouldn’t believe how much ice cream people eat in the winter. Even when we were in the middle of a blizzard. There were nights I drove home through over a foot of snow too because we still had customers in the store. At 29 I have worked a bunch of different jobs and I think that was the job that I had to work the hardest at. Not necessarily because of the mental difficulty of the work but time wise it was very demanding. There was even a day that I worked straight for an 8 hr stretch without even a water break. Now that isn’t healthy behavior (read: I was an idiot for doing that). That job paid minimum wage at the beginning and barely over minimum wage the longer I worked there. I did learn some valuable lessons during my time there however. It taught me how to work hard and it showed me the reward of hard work. The truth is that your first job will be more valuable to you in the character that you build than the wage you receive. I wish someone had told me that when I was younger.
So, you are probably wondering why I shared with you about my second job. I believe it will tie in well with our reading today. In a previous devotion we read that Jacob worked for 7 years for Rachel and 7 years for Leah. He worked for 14 years just as a bride price, just for his wives. He worked for an additional 6 years just to have some sort of inheritance to walk away with from his father-in-law. Jacob in this situation details all the work that he did for Laban, his father-in-law, in Genesis 31.38-41. He tells Laban how he had worked tirelessly for 20 years in the heat of the day and cold of the night in order to take care of his flocks. In verse 41 Jacob says that Laban had changed his wages 10 times.
I couldn’t even imagine working for the same boss if he changed my wages that many times. I have been working now for around 14 years and I couldn’t imagine working for that long on a job that is essentially 24 hours a day for a boss like that. The life of a shepherd is a difficult life. They often had to spend their time away from home in order to keep the sheep near grass and water. They probably spent many nights under the stars away from their family to protect the herd. Additionally, having your wages changed in this job must have been really disheartening.
In verse 42 I love Jacob’s response, he cites God’s provision for him and He says that despite how Laban treated him he was walking away with something because of God caring for him. Jacob says that God looked down on his affliction and provided for him. God had even intervened the night before Laban came after Jacob and told Laban not to speak good or bad to Jacob. Even though Laban had not seen all of Jacob’s efforts and affliction God did see it and acted between the two men according to righteousness.
I know that in my own life it can be easy to look at my wage as the reward for my labor. I often forget who exactly I am working for, like actually working for. As a Christ follower I have given away every minute of everyday to God. My life simply isn’t for my own enjoyment. The work we do, whether it is for a wage or it is on our own free time, is supposed to be in submission to God’s will as Christ followers. 1 Corinthians 10.31 tells us “…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”.
I believe this is one of the greatest ideas behind our faith. The idea that we would live as we should unto God and leave the reward and our wage to Him. The reason why is that it allows us to live in the freedom to love others and love God whether that is through our words, actions, vocational work, or voluntary work without fighting for ourselves. I am not saying you can just go do whatever you want and just let God provide for you. I’m saying that if you are serving like you should and working like you should by doing it all unto the glory of God that God will fight your battles. He will make a provision for you just like he did for Jacob.
We no longer need to be consumed with whether others do right by us because we have a God who sees it all and will provide for us.
Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+30-31&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Genesis 32-34 on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan