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7. Growing as Kingdom Workers (Genesis 30:25-43)

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After Rachel had given birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so that I can go home to my own country. Let me take my wives and my children whom I have acquired by working for you. Then I’ll depart, because you know how hard I’ve worked for you.” But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your sight, please stay here, for I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me on account of you.” He added, “Just name your wages—I’ll pay whatever you want.” “You know how I have worked for you,” Jacob replied, “and how well your livestock have fared under my care. Indeed, you had little before I arrived, but now your possessions have increased many times over. The Lord has blessed you wherever I worked. But now, how long must it be before I do something for my own family too?” So Laban asked, “What should I give you?” “You don’t need to give me a thing,” Jacob replied, “but if you agree to this one condition, I will continue to care for your flocks and protect them: Let me walk among all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb, and the spotted or speckled goats. These animals will be my wages. My integrity will testify for me later on. When you come to verify that I’ve taken only the wages we agreed on, if I have in my possession any goat that is not speckled or spotted or any sheep that is not dark-colored, it will be considered stolen.” “Agreed!” said Laban, “It will be as you say.” So that day Laban removed the male goats that were streaked or spotted, all the female goats that were speckled or spotted (all that had any white on them), and all the dark-colored lambs, and put them in the care of his sons. Then he separated them from Jacob by a three-day journey, while Jacob was taking care of the rest of Laban’s flocks. But Jacob took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond, and plane trees. He made white streaks by peeling them, making the white inner wood in the branches visible. Then he set up the peeled branches in all the watering troughs where the flocks came to drink. He set up the branches in front of the flocks when they were in heat and came to drink. When the sheep mated in front of the branches, they gave birth to young that were streaked or speckled or spotted. Jacob removed these lambs, but he made the rest of the flock face the streaked and completely dark-colored animals in Laban’s flock. So he made separate flocks for himself and did not mix them with Laban’s flocks. When the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would set up the branches in the troughs in front of the flock, so they would mate near the branches. But if the animals were weaker, he did not set the branches there. So the weaker animals ended up belonging to Laban and the stronger animals to Jacob. In this way Jacob became extremely prosperous. He owned large flocks, male and female servants, camels, and donkeys.

Genesis 30:25-43 (NET)

How can we grow as kingdom workers—those who expand God’s kingdom through their vocations?

After creation, God not only gave humanity a call to be fruitful and multiply but also to work. They were to tend the garden, care for the animals, and rule over the earth. God said to them, “Fill the earth and subdue it!” (Gen 1:28). Often, we tend to think of work with a negative connotation, as though it is a result of the fall, but that is not true. Work was originally one of the ways that humanity was called to build God’s kingdom on the earth. Likewise, our call is still to build God’s kingdom through work. In Luke 19, the Parable of the Minas, while the master was away, the servants were to work. When the master returned, he would reward them, based on their service, with greater opportunities to serve—overseeing cities in the coming kingdom (v. 11-27). God has called all of us to work and use the gifts and resources he has given us to build his kingdom.

Here in Genesis 30, after Jacob had twelve children (eleven boys and one girl) in seven years, he says to his father-in-law, Laban, that it was time for him to return home. In response, Laban asked him to stay and name his wages. Up to this point, Jacob had only earned two wives and room and board, but now, he would earn a profit to provide for his family long-term.

As we consider this narrative, we must remember that Jacob was not just a laborer. He was a crucial part of redemptive history. God’s call was to bless him and his family in order that they would be a blessing to the nations, and this was happening in this story. God used Jacob’s work to bless Laban by making him wealthy and also, more importantly, to further introduce him to Yahweh.

For most, instead of being a means to build God’s kingdom, work is a way to build their own kingdom. For some, work is their “god”—it takes all of their devotion and focus. For others, it is their identity—their worth rises and falls based on their careers. For others, it is their burden—something that removes joy from their lives. However, for believers, when properly understood, it should be different. Again, work is part of God’s creation mandate and a way to establish his rule and kingdom on this earth. Therefore, work is redemptive, and we see this with Jacob’s work. God not only blessed Jacob but also others through his work. As we consider Jacob’s work partnership with Laban, we learn something about being kingdom workers—those who build God’s kingdom through their vocations.

Big Question: What principles can we discern about growing as kingdom workers from Genesis 30:25-43, where Jacob works for Laban for another six years?

As Kingdom Workers, We Must Develop a High Work-Ethic

After Rachel had given birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so that I can go home to my own country. Let me take my wives and my children whom I have acquired by working for you. Then I’ll depart, because you know how hard I’ve worked for you.” But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your sight, please stay here, for I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me on account of you.” He added, “Just name your wages—I’ll pay whatever you want.” “You know how I have worked for you,” Jacob replied, “and how well your livestock have fared under my care. Indeed, you had little before I arrived, but now your possessions have increased many times over. The Lord has blessed you wherever I worked…

Genesis 30:25-30

Jacob had already worked fourteen years for Laban, and Laban had prospered because of it. His livestock fared well and his possessions multiplied. Jacob worked hard for Laban, and he mentioned it during their discussion. In verse 26, he said, “because you know how hard I’ve worked for you.” Laban certainly agreed and therefore tried to secure Jacob’s services for a longer period. In response, Laban said, “Just name your wages—I’ll pay whatever you want” (v. 28). No reasonable price would have been too much, as Jacob was valuable. Jacob didn’t always agree with Laban. In fact, Jacob probably didn’t even like him, but that didn’t diminish his work-ethic and that must be true for us as well. If we are going to be kingdom workers—those who expand God’s kingdom through our work—we must maintain a high work-ethic as well.

Application Question: How can we maintain a high work-ethic, especially in difficult circumstances or while working with difficult people?

1. To maintain a high work-ethic, we must focus on the Lord and not people or circumstances.

For fourteen years, Jacob made no wages. He just worked for room and board and to pay off his marriage debt, which in part, he was cheated into. If he focused on those factors, he probably wouldn’t have worked as hard. However, if he focused on the Lord and his promises, then he could be faithful. Jacob knew God was with him—he could see God moving. He said to Laban, “The Lord has blessed you wherever I worked” (v. 30). Jacob, to some extent, was focused on the Lord, and that no doubt motivated him.

This is true for us as well. If we only see our employer, co-workers, low wages, or difficult work environment, often we will lack motivation. Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you are doing, work at it with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not for people, because you know that you will receive your inheritance from the Lord as the reward. Serve the Lord Christ.” We keep a high work-ethic by focusing on the Lord.

2. To maintain a high work-ethic, we must be goal-oriented.

Earlier in Genesis 29, the narrator said that Jacob’s first seven years were like a few days because he loved Rachel so much (v. 19). His goal was to pay her wedding debt, so he could marry her. This initial goal inspired him for fourteen years in total, as the original length was expanded because of Laban’s deception. This goal helped him work hard. When Jacob negotiated this new deal, his next goal was to provide long-term for his family. This also enabled him to maintain a high work-ethic.

Likewise, as we’re working, we must develop goals that inspire us. They could be short-term goals like finishing a project by lunch or long-term goals like a promotion or getting further training to open up future doors. It also might include ministry goals like witnessing to our co-workers or customers. Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead only to plenty.” Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) says, “Where there is no vision, people perish.” When we don’t have God-given goals and plans, then many times we’ll struggle with working hard. We may even feel purposeless. We need God-given goals to maintain a high work-ethic.

How is your work-ethic?

Application Question: What are some of your work goals that motivate you? How would you rate your work-ethic on a scale of 1-10 and why? How do you maintain a high work-ethic, especially when working in less than ideal conditions? What factors tend to diminish your work-ethic?

As Kingdom Workers, We Must Work Missionally

But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your sight, please stay here, for I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me on account of you.” He added, “Just name your wages—I’ll pay whatever you want.” “You know how I have worked for you,” Jacob replied, “and how well your livestock have fared under my care. Indeed, you had little before I arrived, but now your possessions have increased many times over. The Lord has blessed you wherever I worked. But now, how long must it be before I do something for my own family too?”

Genesis 30:27-30

It must be noticed that over Jacob’s previous fourteen years of work, Laban experienced God’s blessing and came to know him in a deeper way. After Jacob asked for permission to leave, Laban said this, “If I have found favor in your sight, please stay here, for I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me on account of you.” The name “LORD,” which Laban used, is God’s covenant name Yahweh. Laban knew God more and experienced his favor because of Jacob’s dedicated labor.

Similarly, Nebuchadnezzar came to know God more through the faithfulness of his workers—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Nebuchadnezzar decreed that everybody should bow to his gold statue when the music played; however, the three Hebrews would not, out of obedience to God. Because of this, Nebuchadnezzar threw them into the fire, but God saved them. Afterward, Nebuchadnezzar said this:

“Praised be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent forth his angel and has rescued his servants who trusted in him, ignoring the edict of the king and giving up their bodies rather than serve or pay homage to any god other than their God! I hereby decree that any people, nation, or language group that blasphemes the god of Shadrach, Meshach, or Abednego will be dismembered and his home reduced to rubble! For there exists no other god who can deliver in this way.”

Daniel 3:28-29

As they faithfully served the Lord in an antagonistic environment, God delivered them in such a way that all came to know God. That should be our purpose in the workplace as well. It should be to introduce our God and his kingdom to others. We should pray for our bosses and co-workers. We should look for opportunities to serve and love them. We should also strategically seek opportunities for gospel conversations and invite those at work to church.

Similarly, Paul said this to the slaves in Crete:

Slaves are to be subject to their own masters in everything, to do what is wanted and not talk back, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, in order to bring credit to the teaching of God our Savior in everything.

Titus 2:9-10

Verse 10b can also be translated to “make the teaching about God our Savior attractive” (NIV). We must in every way seek to draw people to Christ through our labor. Essentially, that’s what Jacob did, as he labored for God while serving Laban. Laban may have never been saved, but he knew of and honored Yahweh because of Jacob’s labor. In fact, in Genesis 31:24, God spoke to Laban in a vision about not harming Jacob. Laban’s employment of Jacob helped him to know and fear God more. Jacob’s labor was missional. As kingdom workers, our labor must be missional as well.

Are you beautifying the teachings of Christ in your workplace?

Application Question: What are some strategic ways to be missional in the workplace? In what ways has God opened doors for you to share God’s truth with others to bless them in the workplace?

As Kingdom Workers, We Must Focus on Our Families

Indeed, you had little before I arrived, but now your possessions have increased many times over. The Lord has blessed you wherever I worked. But now, how long must it be before I do something for my own family too?”

Genesis 30:30

It must be noticed that Jacob was not only working so Laban could prosper, but also working to take care of his family. Jacob had just finished a season where he gained two wives and twelve children. After focusing on building his family, Jacob was now going to focus on his financial household. When Laban asked Jacob to stay, he essentially replied, “I’ve taken care of you, but now I need to take care of my family.”

Sadly, many Christians lack this concept of focusing on their family. Some work hard to provide for others at their company, the church, the mission field, or some social justice endeavor but are negligent in providing for their own families. Consequently, their families suffer from financial, emotional, social, or spiritual lack. In 1 Timothy 5:8, Paul said, “But if someone does not provide for his own, especially his own family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” In the context of 1 Timothy 5 and in Genesis 30, the focus is primarily financial; however, believers must also not neglect their families’ emotional, social, and spiritual needs. In fact, those might be more important.

Believers must strike the balance between work, serving others, and serving their family. In that balance, our families must be our priority after God. The season we are in may affect what that balance looks like. For example, when children are small, they need greater attention and love from both parents. When they get older, they won’t want or need the parents’ attention as much. Sadly, many parents miss out on the opportunity to really love on and impart into their young children, by focusing on other endeavors like further education, work, hobbies, etc. As with Jacob, there is a season for everything. There are seasons to prepare for marriage, get married, build a family, build our financial household for retirement, etc. However, some seasons, we will never get back. Our children will only be young for a short season.

Similarly, with newly married couples, I often counsel them to cut back on outside endeavors to focus on one another during their first year of marriage. In Deuteronomy 24:5, husbands were not allowed to go to war during the first year of marriage, so they could please their wives. This, no doubt, was strategic. The first year of marriage is the year with the highest divorce rates. Sadly, many never discern the season and over commit themselves in that first year. Instead of building a strong foundation for the rest of their marriage, they build one with cracks—that doesn’t weather storms well. When problems arise, those cracks from the early season of marriage re-emerge.

As kingdom workers, in all seasons, we must focus on our families. We must ask, “What might be best for them in this season?” They are our first ministry before work and church. Jacob had just finished seasons of preparing for marriage and then building his family—fourteen years all together. Now, in these next six years, he was going to focus on building his finances for the future. There is a season for everything—however, in each season, we must prioritize our family.

Application Question: Why is it so hard to find the right balance between work and family? In what ways do people commonly hurt their families by over prioritizing work, education, or some other endeavor? What are some secrets to help us prioritize our families in the various seasons?

As Kingdom Workers, We Must Work in Faith—Trusting God to Provide

So Laban asked, “What should I give you?” “You don’t need to give me a thing,” Jacob replied, “but if you agree to this one condition, I will continue to care for your flocks and protect them: Let me walk among all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb, and the spotted or speckled goats. These animals will be my wages. My integrity will testify for me later on. When you come to verify that I’ve taken only the wages we agreed on, if I have in my possession any goat that is not speckled or spotted or any sheep that is not dark-colored, it will be considered stolen.” “Agreed!” said Laban, “It will be as you say.”

Genesis 30:31-34

When Jacob replies to Laban about compensation, he sets up a deal that was heavily weighted in Laban’s favor. Traditionally, contracted shepherds received about ten to twenty percent of the flock, as well as a percentage of wool and milk products.1 However, Jacob elects to establish a commission model. He would receive only the dark-colored sheep and the multi-colored goats. Typically, sheep are a white color, and goats are a dark, solid color. Dark sheep and multi-colored goats are rare.2

When Laban heard the deal, he quickly agreed. How could he not? While walking away, he probably chuckled to himself, and then when fully away from Jacob, his chuckle probably turned into a roar. This was a tremendous deal for him, but a foolish one for Jacob. However, Jacob’s deal reflected his faith in God—God would provide.

Typically, in those days, when negotiations began, one would name an outrageous price, and then the other side would counter-offer. This would go back and forth until a fair price was reached. Something similar happened with Abraham when negotiating to buy a tomb for his deceased wife in Genesis 23. The Canaanite gave him an outrageous price, and in turn, Abraham was supposed to negotiate for a fair price. However, Abraham doesn’t. He just accepts it. Abraham was not like the world and neither was Jacob. He was a kingdom worker who operated based on faith instead of fear—Spirit instead of flesh. Jacob had a promise that God’s presence and blessing would be with him wherever he went (Gen 28:14-15). When Jacob made this deal, it was made in faith. God was going to provide for him, even if the deal didn’t seem to be in his favor.

Likewise, as kingdom workers, we must work in faith—trusting God. Our job, employer, co-workers, or parents don’t provide for us. Neither does the economy or the stock market. They may be the means, but God is the Provider. Therefore, we must trust him. When we focus on the means of God’s provision instead of the Provider, we will often find ourselves anxious and worried.

In Matthew 6:25-33, Christ told the disciples to stop worrying about their provisions. God provided for the grass and the birds of the air. God, their Father, would provide for them as well. Instead of worrying, they were called to seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and all their needs would be provided (Matt 6:33). The disciples did not need to be anxious, and neither do we. We have a promise from God that he will take care of us, as we pursue him first. This doesn’t mean that we don’t need to work. We do. Scripture says that if we don’t work, we shouldn’t eat (2 Thess 3:10).

Similarly, Jacob worked, but he didn’t need to be anxious about the compensation. God was going to provide. We must remember this as well. It will deliver us from running around like the world—anxiously trying to meet our needs by securing the most advantageous deals. Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will supply your every need according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” God doesn’t promise to meet all our wants, but he does promise to meet all our needs. Therefore, we can trust him and operate in faith rather than fear.

Application Question: In what ways do you struggle with anxiety about finances or the future? How is God calling you to trust him—concerning your future provisions? What is the proper balance between trust and being prudent when it comes to securing our provisions? Have you experienced times when God has called you to step out in faith when it comes to work or preparing for the future?

As Kingdom Workers, We Must Expect Conflict and Difficulty

So that day Laban removed the male goats that were streaked or spotted, all the female goats that were speckled or spotted (all that had any white on them), and all the dark-colored lambs, and put them in the care of his sons. Then he separated them from Jacob by a three-day journey, while Jacob was taking care of the rest of Laban’s flocks… Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were complaining, “Jacob has taken everything that belonged to our father! He has gotten rich at our father’s expense!” When Jacob saw the look on Laban’s face, he could tell his attitude toward him had changed… You know that I’ve worked for your father as hard as I could, but your father has humiliated me and changed my wages ten times. But God has not permitted him to do me any harm.

Genesis 30:35-36, 31:1-2, 6-7

After striking the deal, Laban immediately had all the dark sheep and multi-colored goats removed, taken three days journey away, and placed under the care of his sons (v. 35-36). What was happening? There are different views on this; however, it seems that, according to the deal, Jacob was supposed to go through the flock and take the unique sheep and goats as his wages (v. 32). In spite of this, Laban takes them. Most likely, Laban was already changing the rules of the deal. After removing the uniquely colored sheep and goats, Laban probably said, “Now, what’s left is yours. The deal starts now!” Jacob began this new endeavor with nothing! Laban would continue to do this throughout their partnership. In Genesis 31:7, Jacob says that Laban changed his wages ten times over a six-year period. Working for Laban was difficult—he was unethical and a bully.

This was not the only difficulties Jacob experienced. In Genesis 31:1-2, Laban’s sons complained about Jacob because, eventually, he became more prosperous than Laban. Since the sons received portions of Laban’s estate as their inheritance, Jacob’s success made them jealous and upset. Jacob not only had conflict with Laban but also with Laban’s sons.

Similarly, as kingdom workers, we will often experience conflict and difficulty in the workplace. This may happen for a variety of reasons, but it will often happen for faith-based reasons, like spiritual warfare. In Daniel 6, because Daniel was an excellent worker, his government peers sought a way to get him in trouble with the king. Since they couldn’t find anything unethical with him, they found something that had to do with his religion and got him thrown into the lion’s den (Dan 6). Sometimes, the conflict will come because the workplace’s practices are unethical, and we refuse to participate in them. Dishonesty, stealing, laziness, gossip, drunkenness, promiscuity, etc., are all not uncommon practices in the workplace. When one chooses to not participate, they will often be ridiculed, ostracized, or skipped over for promotion. This is commonly the lot of kingdom workers. They are different than the world and are frequently treated as such.

Application Question: How should we respond to conflict and difficulty in the workplace?

1. We must remember to not seek personal vengeance, as God will fight our battles.

Romans 12:19 says, “Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” God promised Jacob that he would protect him (Gen 28:15). In fact, in Genesis 31, God warns Laban in a dream to not harm Jacob. God will fight our battles as well. We must remember this.

With that said, Romans 12:19 primarily refers to not seeking personal vengeance—not judicial vengeance. God has placed authorities at the workplace and within government for the purpose of maintaining justice and punishing evil. Romans 13:4, in referring to governing authorities, says, “for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be in fear, for it does not bear the sword in vain. It is God’s servant to administer retribution on the wrongdoer.” Certainly, there are times when we should report evil that has been done to us to the appropriate authorities. God has placed them in positions of authority for that purpose. At other times, we will choose to just turn the other cheek, as Christ taught (Matt 5:39). We must prayerfully discern how to respond to each circumstance.

2. We must remember to overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:20-21 says, “Rather, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing this you will be heaping burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Though this is difficult, we must bless our enemies. We should constantly pray for them and find ways to serve them. As we do this, we allow God to work through us to help change their lives and help them grow in the knowledge of God.

3. We must remember that perseverance should be our Spirit-led response to difficulties, including difficulties at work (cf. James 1:4), until God makes it clear otherwise.

Jacob perseveres for six years in this difficult work partnership. Laban cheats him by changing his wages ten times; however, eventually God tells Jacob to leave in a dream (Gen 31). We must persevere until God clearly releases us as well.

Application Question: How have you experienced conflict, difficulty, or injustice in the workplace, especially related to your faith? How did you respond and what were the results? How has God used these work-related difficulties for your good? How is God calling you to currently trust him with work-related difficulties—sometimes relational ones—and to overcome evil with good?

As Kingdom Workers, We Must Work Skillfully

But Jacob took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond, and plane trees. He made white streaks by peeling them, making the white inner wood in the branches visible. Then he set up the peeled branches in all the watering troughs where the flocks came to drink. He set up the branches in front of the flocks when they were in heat and came to drink. When the sheep mated in front of the branches, they gave birth to young that were streaked or speckled or spotted. Jacob removed these lambs, but he made the rest of the flock face the streaked and completely dark-colored animals in Laban’s flock. So he made separate flocks for himself and did not mix them with Laban’s flocks. When the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would set up the branches in the troughs in front of the flock, so they would mate near the branches. But if the animals were weaker, he did not set the branches there. So the weaker animals ended up belonging to Laban and the stronger animals to Jacob. In this way Jacob became extremely prosperous. He owned large flocks, male and female servants, camels, and donkeys.

Genesis 30:37-43

Observation Question: What methods did Jacob use to try to influence the birthing of the flocks?

When Jacob started working for Laban, he used innovative shepherding practices in order to make the deal more advantageous to himself. These included:

  1. When the flock was in heat, he set up peeled branches, which looked striped, in the watering troughs. As the sheep and goats mated while looking at the striped branches, the hope was that the visual impression would affect their seed—causing them to be striped and multi-colored (v. 37-39).
  2. In addition, Jacob made the normal colored flocks face the uniquely colored ones (v. 40). Again, this was done to impress those colors upon them, so they would bear uniquely colored sheep and goats.
  3. Finally, Jacob practiced selective breeding. After seeing that the impression method was working, he used the impressions when breeding the stronger flocks but not with the weaker. Therefore, his flocks became large and strong, while Laban’s were weak (v. 41-43).

What was Jacob doing? He was probably using some Canaanite breeding methods to develop these unique flocks.3 In Amos 1:1, when referring to the shepherds of Tekoa, an area in ancient Israel, the Hebrew word for “shepherd” means “speckled.” For this reason, some believe those colored flocks were more desirable in Canaan, and thus, Jacob was using their breeding methods.4

Most commentators say there is no scientific basis for these methods and that they were just superstitious—like Rachel’s belief in the mandrakes as an aphrodisiac (Gen 29:14-15). However, these types of functional practices are not uncommon among Eastern cultures. For example, with many Eastern medicinal practices, though they may work, the Western scientific community cannot completely explain why. Either way, whether superstitious or not, as Jacob used the innovative shepherding practices of that day, God blessed them. Soon after, Jacob had a dream where God spoke to him. In that dream, he saw streaked, speckled, and spotted flocks mating (Gen 31:10-13). Essentially, God was saying to him, “I gave you those flocks!” Jacob was innovative, and God blessed his innovation.

Similarly, wherever God places us vocationally, we must seek to become skillful masters of our trades. In order to honor God and make his teachings attractive, we must continue to develop skills in our fields by securing knowledge through reading, experimenting, asking questions, being mentored, and modeling others. We must aim to be excellent. As we do this, God will often bless the labor of our hands.

Are you still trying to grow in your vocation—whether that be as a student, educator, homemaker, businessman, minister, or in any other field? We must constantly aim for excellence, as we seek to expand God’s kingdom through work.

With the making of the tabernacle, God gave Bezalel the gift of craftsmanship to make beautiful structures (Ex 31:2-5). God gave Samson strength to protect and judge Israel. God gave Solomon wisdom to rule Israel. Similarly, God made Daniel ten times wiser than all the king’s wise men (Dan 1:22). God wants to empower us and give us wisdom for whatever task he has called us to. However, Scripture says, we have not because we ask not (James 4:2). It also says, if we lack wisdom, we should ask God, for he gives liberally (James 1:5). Are you asking? Are you seeking God for wisdom and empowerment to better perform your craft for his glory and kingdom?

Application Question: In what ways have you experienced God’s wisdom, empowerment, and favor to do some job or hobby God called you to? How is God calling you to seek his empowerment for whatever task he currently has you doing?

As Kingdom Workers, We Must Work with Integrity

My integrity will testify for me later on. When you come to verify that I’ve taken only the wages we agreed on, if I have in my possession any goat that is not speckled or spotted or any sheep that is not dark-colored, it will be considered stolen.” “Agreed!” said Laban, “It will be as you say.” …When the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would set up the branches in the troughs in front of the flock, so they would mate near the branches. But if the animals were weaker, he did not set the branches there. So the weaker animals ended up belonging to Laban and the stronger animals to Jacob. In this way Jacob became extremely prosperous. He owned large flocks, male and female servants, camels, and donkeys.

Genesis 30:33-34, 41-43

Finally, we can discern our need to work with integrity from Jacob’s contract with Laban. Initially, Jacob created a contract with stipulations which made sure his work was done with integrity. The dark lambs and mixed goats were his—not the white lambs and solid colored goats. Because of this, Laban could come and check his flocks any time and discern what was not Jacob’s (30:33). This plan kept him free from accusation.

However, there is a diversity of opinion on whether Jacob’s practices after initiating the deal were completely free of deception or not. Obviously, in order for the deal to be beneficial to him, he needed to find ways to produce a uniquely colored flock. Even with using the impression method, it was not guaranteed. The chances of producing a uniquely colored flock were stacked against him. God had to bless his labor, which he did. For that reason, many commentators think Jacob’s actions were within the bounds of the structured business deal and therefore were ethical. Matthew Henry called them “the honest improvement of a fair bargain.”5 Others disagree.

Either way, it is clear either from Jacob’s faithfulness or unfaithfulness that, as kingdom workers, we must demonstrate integrity in our practices. If we don’t, it will push people away from God and ultimately lead to God’s discipline. Colossians 3:23-25 says,

Whatever you are doing, work at it with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not for people, because you know that you will receive your inheritance from the Lord as the reward. Serve the Lord Christ. For the one who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there are no exceptions.

God will repay us for our good but also for our wrong. Therefore, we must work for God with a reverent fear of his displeasure and discipline. Similarly, in Ephesians 6:5-6, Paul said:

Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart as to Christ, not like those who do their work only when someone is watching—as people-pleasers—but as slaves of Christ doing the will of God from the heart.

This means our work must be free of complaining and bitterness, as we’re working for the Lord, who primarily cares about our heart motives. We must also offer a full-day’s work—not only working when our employers are watching us. As kingdom workers, we must labor with integrity for we are working for the Lord and not for men.

Are you working with integrity, as unto the Lord and not for men?

Application Question: Why is it at times difficult to work with integrity, while in the workplace? How have you experienced work environments with a lack of integrity? How is God calling you to maintain your integrity, regardless of where you work or serve?

Conclusion

As we consider this narrative, we must remember that Jacob was a crucial part of redemptive history. God’s call was to bless him and his family in order that the world would be blessed through them. This promise also applied to his work—his work was not free of trouble, but it was redemptive. Laban came to know God more through Jacob’s work, and it should be the same with our labor. Others should be blessed through our work, and God should be glorified through it. How can we grow as kingdom workers—those who build God’s kingdom through their vocations?

  1. As Kingdom Workers, We Must Develop a High Work-Ethic
  2. As Kingdom Workers, We Must Work Missionally
  3. As Kingdom Workers, We Must Focus on Our Families
  4. As Kingdom Workers, We Must Work in Faith—Trusting God to Provide
  5. As Kingdom Workers, We Must Expect Conflict and Difficulty
  6. As Kingdom Workers, We Must Work Skillfully
  7. As Kingdom Workers, We Must Work with Integrity

Copyright © 2018 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the NET Bible ® copyright © 1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

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Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

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1 Hughes, R. K. (2004). Genesis: beginning and blessing (p. 384). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

2 Hughes, R. K. (2004). Genesis: beginning and blessing (p. 384). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

3 Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Genesis 30:37-43, E-sword Bible Software.

4 Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Genesis 30:25-36, E-sword Bible Software.

5 Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Genesis 30:37-43, E-sword Bible Software.

Related Topics: Character Study, Christian Life

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