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 Jacob 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.” Genesis 32:17-20
Have you ever wronged someone and then felt so guilty you couldn’t face them? You steered clear of them for a good long while. Or perhaps you went in another direction and decided to sell your soul to win back their love.
At this part in the Genesis story, Jacob was about to meet Esau. He avoided him for many years after cheating him out of his inheritance, but the Lord said it was time for Jacob to go home. To do that meant going straight through Esau’s territory. The time for hiding was over. Jacob was afraid for his life. So, he conceived the best possible plan to smooth things over with his brother. He sent three groups of servants ahead of him with expensive gifts. They were also armed with heartwarming speeches. This, Jacob hoped, would soften the future moment when the two brothers laid eyes on each other.
While this kind of posturing sometimes works in human relationships, it does not work with God. All for nothing, we wear ourselves out trying to win God’s favor. We believe that He is hard to please and downright unreasonable. We are sure that we must come with gifts and perfect behavior to put Him in a better mood. We hope that we can make Him like us again. (And, we are also in control of the reconciliation instead of resting in God’s righteous character.)
Because of Jesus, there is no need to appease God. Christ’s own blood appeased God forme. 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. No games. No conditions. Only grace and favor.
You grieve when I take on hard labor and live like a slave. All You want is a sincere apology accompanied by faith in Your love and forgiveness. Amen