Genesis 29:26 – And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.
The trickster was tricked. The ultimate schemer, Jacob, met his match in Laban. Jacob fell in love with Laban’s daughter Rachel. Jacob agreed to work 7 years for Rachel. When the time for marriage arrived, 7 years were over; Jacob was given Leah instead of Rachel. Leah was Rachel’s older sister. Why the trickery?
Laban simply said, “ this is how we do it in our country. The first born is always married off first.” “This is how we always do it”; is a scary phrase. It’s inflexible. Customs that make sense are great. Customs that no longer make sense do nothing but confine.
I believe in having customs. At ConnectPoint we have some “house rules”. Not heaven or hell truths, but principles of practice that we feel are important to our process. But once these principles no longer make sense, they must be adjusted or the result is trouble.
Have your customs turned into sacred cows? Are there some programs that no longer make sense? Are you plagued by old paradigms? Instead of setting people up for spiritual success, are you stunting their growth? Common sense and common practice are two different things.
Laban refused to be flexible with his customs. Therefore, he found himself in all kinds of chaos.
Lessons learned from Laban’s law:
- He preached one thing, and delivered another. This is deception.
- Jacob is pushed into legalistic labor. Instead of blessing Jacob for his service, they use Jacob for his service. In reality this is slave labor. Jacob was never a part of the family – always the outsider.
- Leah is hurt deeply. People caught in the crossfire of your customs can be hurt so deeply that they never get over it. When somebody feels like they will never be good enough – that’s a deep hurt.
- Families are torn apart. Sides are drawn. Cliques are created. Jacob never had unity in his family; neither did Laban.
- Ultimately the flock is separated. You could call this a church split.
- God isn’t on Laban’s side, rather He is telling Jacob to get away from Laban’s control.
- Laban’s custom was all about control. Is it possible to have a culture of control and be Christians at the same time?
- Customs were more important than people. People must be more important than systems.
- Instead of creating camaraderie, their custom produced a culture of unhealthy competition. Who get’s the most love? Who get’s the greater position? Why aren’t you letting me produce, when she is producing? We are called to measure ourselves with Christ not the crowd.
- It pushes people to imitate others, rather than becoming who God called them to be. I can’t be satisfied with my gifting when her gifting is getting more attention.
- Placing the custom over people was something the people could feel.
- Speaks of service in terms of a destination (7 years) instead of a journey (lifestyle).
Customs that have concrete foundations in the word of God should never be changed. Customs that don’t – shouldn’t hold the same status as the unchanging kind.
It takes wisdom to decipher the difference between the two. It takes courage to flex and flow when your form has lost its function.