When I was little and somebody called me names, I was taught to say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” As adults, of course, we know just how damaging name-calling can be, but thankfully I survived it!
When Laban and his band of relatives finally caught up with Jacob, God stepped in (Genesis 31:22-29). In a dream, he warned him not to say anything either good or bad to Jacob, which left Laban in no doubt that God was protecting his son-in-law.
So Laban couldn’t directly or threaten Jacob, or harm him physically. Instead he set about putting him under a guilt trip. By undermining Jacob’s reasons for the escape, he was attempting to inflict on him that most dangerous of states – self-doubt.
When I was little, I found that name-calling only hurt if there was a grain of truth in what was being said, or if it was in the area of some insecurity, something that I already thought myself. If I knew it was totally off the mark, then it just glanced off. Jacob was secure. He knew he had had good reason to make the escape, and he knew God had told him to go; he had no insecurities in that area, so Laban scored no goals.
And I think therein lies a key. We need to be secure: in who God is, that he loves us, that he has saved us, and that he has placed us in a position of spiritual authority.
Ephesians 2:4-6 “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”
So whenever anyone tries to undermine your self-esteem, remember who you are in Christ.