Where do you find your wealth?
Jacob is famous for robbing his brother of his birthright. After covering himself with hair and masquerading as Esau before his blind father, Jacob received the prized blessing. By his own effort he plotted and acted and achieved his goal, but what did it gain him? His brother’s hatred, the threat of death, and the loss of his home. Jacob ran away empty handed.
Twenty years passed before Jacob returned to his homeland, and look at the difference those twenty years made. Jacob ran away with nothing, but he returned a rich man. To appease his brother, he gave him a gift of a part of his wealth.
So he lodged there that night, and took from what he had with him a present for his brother Esau, two hundred she-goats and twenty he-goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty milch camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty she-asses and ten he-asses. Genesis 32:13-15
Jacob gave his brother over 500 livestock, and this was only a part of his possessions. Jacob had become a wealthy man. And here’s the key question: what was the secret of Jacob’s wealth? What was the source of his blessing?
It’s interesting that the deceiving Jacob was tricked by his own uncle during his time away from home. He worked as an indentured servant. His uncle continually tried to oppress him. Yet Jacob prospered. How? Jacob gave the answer as he told his family why they must leave and return to Canaan.
You know that I have served your father with all my strength; yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not permit him to harm me. If he said, ‘The spotted shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore spotted; and if he said, ‘The striped shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore striped. Thus God has taken away the cattle of your father, and given them to me. Genesis 31:6-9
Jacob saw that God was the cause of his prosperity and the only source of blessing. It wasn’t his human effort that made the difference; that had only led to trouble. It wasn’t his grasping after the family property that enriched him; that only forced him to flee as a fugitive. He prospered in spite of his uncle’s efforts to rob him. God blessed him.
Don’t read Jacob’s history and think that you need to do nothing to prosper. Jacob worked long and hard in his partnership with God – twenty years of daily effort. However, the secret to his success was not his own sweat, but his relationship with the LORD.
And don’t read Jacob’s story and see it as a magical key to unlock a treasure of material riches. God will bless you if you serve him, but he determines what the blessings will be. Money is a poor substitute for most of the blessings he gives us.
There are some of you, dear brethren, who have minds that are naturally given to inventions, and devices, and plans, and plots, and I believe that, where this is the case, you have more to battle against than those have who are of an ample mind, and who cast themselves more entirely upon the Lord. It is a blessed thing to be such a fool that you do not know anyone to trust in except your God. It is a sweet thing to be so weaned from your wisdom that you fall into the arms of God. Yet, if you do feel that it is right to make such plans as Jacob made, take care that you do what Jacob also did. Pray as well as plan, and if your plans be numerous, let your prayers be all the more fervent, lest the natural tendency of your constitution should degenerate into reliance upon the arm of flesh, and dependence upon your own wisdom, instead of absolute reliance upon God. Charles Spurgeon
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