My kids all get on well; they are all great citizens, serving God – we’re really proud of them all. But when the younger two both come home at the same time, for a day or two, they have a habit of reverting to their old childhood ways. They laugh at themselves behaving like a couple of toddlers, because they can see it in themselves, but somehow those default habits just kick in!
Jacob did just that when he met up with Esau again (Genesis 33). Many years had passed, and they both wanted to be reconciled. But Jacob was the Twister by name, and deep within him was that tendency. So when Esau invited him to come home with him to Seir, he snook out of it, and went in the opposite direction, to Succoth, and then on to Shechem. He may have had his reasons for wanting to go a different way, and at a different pace, but he lied about it.
Most of us have ‘default attitudes’ that are from our old way of living, and that we revert back to when we come under stress or difficulty, or when we are just not on the lookout. God was trying to make a ‘new man’ out of Jacob. That’s why he had given him the new name, Israel. Jacob, however, was still the old Jacob. God wants to make new people out of us – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17. But just like Jacob, we easily revert back.
Maybe one key in sticking with the ‘new man’ is that we see ourselves as forgiven, restored, living in victory. I once heard a mature Christian say, “I’m rubbish. The only good in me is what He has done for me.” Whilst there is some truth in that, the reality is that God has enabled us to be far more than rubbish! As the song puts it, “The same power that conquered the grave lives in me.” So let’s grow up, boys and girls and see ourselves living the victorious life as God has intended for us. Eventually it becomes the new default.