I’ve always worked either for myself or in teaching, where the wages are standardized. If I’d been in a job where the pay was negotiable, and my boss had said to me, “How much do you think you deserve?” I wonder what I would have said! Under that system, the grabbers in society would ask a lot more than the meek. So when Laban, for a second time, asked Jacob to name his wages (Genesis 30:31) it tells us that he was not a grabber – otherwise Laban would never have asked the question!
Something else is revealed here too – Jacob had learned to trust God. Whatever plans he had, and whatever devices of striped poles and so on, ultimately the colour that an animal was born was in God’s hands. Whatever fortune Jacob managed to amass was entirely dependent upon God’s provision.
Nevertheless, the abundance of provision would soon dry up if Jacob himself was not diligent in his work. He had to work hard and trust God for the blessing to continue on his endeavours.
Another thing we understand about Jacob, is that he was no fool. He was a competent herdsman and knew those flocks well. He must have known exactly how many speckled and spotted ones there were, and was fully aware that Laban was not sticking to his side of the bargain. He must have known that the animals that were rightfully his according to their agreement had been removed; yet he chose to say nothing. His trust was in God, not in Laban, and certainly not in fair dealing!
There are times in life when we get ‘done down’, and people take advantage of our kindness, or others are promoted above us unfairly, or we just don’t get a fair deal one way or another. I know when that happens to me, I get really cross, and want to ‘sort them out’ good and proper. Then it behoves us to consider – who provides for me anyway? Will I be any the poorer when others treat me wrong, if God is my provider? Won’t he ultimately meet my needs, whether the score is settled or not?
And then I think of Jesus. Did he get a fair deal? Did he complain? He chose to pay the price for my wrongdoing. He knowingly took the punishment that I deserved. Suddenly ‘fairness’ and ‘justice’ don’t look so appealing, and I’m so glad of mercy and grace.