When Humility Becomes Us

And when Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and children, he said, “Who are these with you?” Jacob said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” Genesis 33:5

Jacob was humble as he introduced his family to Esau. Time and hardship had chipped away at some of his hardheartedness and entitlement but his recent wrestling with God brought him to his lowest point, preparing him for this moment. He had encountered God in a wrestling match and lived.  He learned that God had not come to take his life but to spare it. 

There were two defining moments in Jacob’s life.  They occurred twenty years apart.  They were both nocturnal theophanies, encounters with God at night.  The first time, God appeared to him at Bethel to give him the promises of the Covenant.  The second time, God came as an angel and initiated a wrestling match.  God touched his hip and dislocated it, causing him to emerge as a limping patriarch.  In that encounter, he was also given a new name.  Israel.  He learned that, while he had been a man bent on trickery and scheming, God still loved him and would bless him. 

When Esau and Jacob finally faced each other, Esau opened the conversation with a question.  He asked his brother about the people who had traveled with him.  The old Jacob might have answered differently. “This is my extensive family. Aren’t they impressive? I really was supposed to have our father’s blessing! Look how God has blessed me.”  But this is not how he answered.  He introduced them as ‘the gift God had graciously given him.’

People don’t usually soften with time.  Meekness isn’t something sought.  Admissions of past guilt are rare.  While Jacob’s overall character didn’t match up to that of his grandfather, Abraham, his words to the brother he had wronged were marked by humility.  Finally.  It was such a breath of fresh air, so becoming to Jacob.

Where do I need to be clothed in humility?  Show me where traces of defensiveness and entitlement still reign in my flesh.  Amen

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