GUILT IS A TASKMASTER
He [Jacob] instructed the first [servant], “When Esau my brother meets you and asks you, ‘To whom do you belong? Where are you going? And whose are these ahead of you?’ then you shall say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a present sent to my lord Esau. For he thought, “I may appease him with the present that goes ahead of me, and afterward I shall see his face. Perhaps he will accept me.” So the presents passed on ahead of him. Genesis 32:17-20
Have you ever wronged someone and then felt so guilty that you couldn’t look him in the eyes? You couldn’t face the disappointment you’d see there. You avoided him instead. Or perhaps you’re selling your soul to win his favor back. He’s probably enjoying the power you’re giving him, by the way. This adds pain to your groveling.
Jacob is about to meet Esau. He has avoided him for many years after cheating him out of his inheritance. Now, the Lord told Jacob to go home but to do that means going straight through Esau’s land. No more hiding. Jacob wasn’t afraid of seeing the hurt in Esau’s eyes, he was afraid for his life. His plan was to send three groups of servants on ahead of him. Each one would bear expensive gifts and each one would have a heartwarming speech for Esau. All this was just to prepare for the moment the two brothers would lay eyes on each other.
Jacob thought to himself, “If I do this, I will appease him.” The word ‘appease’ in Hebrew means to ‘cover his face.’ Not able to look in his eyes, he will avoid it by presenting gifts instead.
While this may work in human relationships, it does not work with God. When I feel guilty and the thought of seeing Jesus puts dread in my heart, I can be like Jacob and commit myself to the gift of hard Christian labor. All He wants is a sincere apology. Somehow though, I ascribe the ‘hard to please’ label to God and believe Him to be unreasonable. By bringing gifts, I believe I can make Him like me again.
Because of Jesus, there is no need to appease God. Christ’s own blood appeased God for me. He did all the grueling work, brought the gift of His sacrifice on ahead of me so that all I had to do was come in His name. A simple, “Forgive me because of what Jesus did for me!” brings instant reconciliation. No games. No conditions. Only grace and favor.
For all those who are working, show them rest in Your grace. Amen
Journal Question: Who is it that refuses to forgive you and makes you pay a steep price? Write God a short letter and tell him that you’re going to stop comparing Him to this person. Ask Him to show you what “It is finished!” means.