So, Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her. (Genesis 29:20)
We do a lot in the name of love—even for the possibility of love. Perhaps you’ve gone out of your way to make sure you “accidentally on purpose” crossed paths with that cute guy. You spend extra time on your hair or wardrobe choice. You took an interest in sports you’d otherwise ignore.
Some things we do for love are unhealthy. We sacrifice what God never intended us to sacrifice. Other times, what we do for love is just plain silly. We look back and giggle, especially at our rationale of why we chose to do what we did for love. We probably didn’t really give it much thought at the time.
Sometimes what we do for love is really more about acceptance than love. We say we want someone to love us, but when we sacrifice what God didn’t direct us to sacrifice, we’re not really sacrificing at all. We’re trying to please someone other than God. We’re trying to please someone without filtering it through God. We want to be accepted, and we’re willing to give what God tells us to keep or keep what God gives us to give.
What Jacob did for Rachel was for love, and it was sacrificial. Jacob had traveled to the land of his mother’s family to find a wife, and he found one right away. He kissed Rachel upon meeting her (Genesis 29:11), then asked for her father to permit the marriage. The personal cost to him? Seven years of labor.
Done. He was willing to give those seven years. And at the end of the seven years, the marriage celebration followed. But after spending the night with the veiled woman who had become his wife, thinking he was with Rachel, the love of his life, he found out he had actually married Rachel’s older sister, Leah. Their father had been deceptive, yet he played it off as cultural practice. “It is not the custom in this place to give the younger daughter in marriage before the firstborn.” (29:26)
Jacob didn’t give up. He pursued Rachel. He agreed to serve yet another seven years for Rachel. He didn’t have to wait this time; Rachel became his wife right away, but the sacrifice of the years was a daily choice.
When Jacob’s father-in-law said, “It is not the custom in this place…” he put the ways of the world above God’s way. Whatever the custom of the world is doesn’t eclipse God’s way. Just because it’s the custom to give the oldest child in marriage first doesn’t make it okay to deceive a man for seven years. And just because the world says it’s okay to do something doesn’t mean it’s okay by God’s standards.
The world says, “Don’t lose yourself in a relationship.” God says, “Lose yourself to Me.” The world says, “Make sure you can stand on your own two feet and not have to rely on anyone.” God says, “The only one you can truly rely on is Me, and I will provide people in your life.” The world says, “Do what makes you happy.” God says, “Do what pleases Me.”
When we do life God’s way, it’s going to stretch us. We’re going to try some things that seem like a reach to us. They’re outside our comfort zones. And there will be times we want to reach outside our comfort zones and God says, “Stay. Wait. Be patient. Don’t push.” God decides what we do for love. If we let the world decide for us, we’ll quickly get off track.
Dear God, I want to accept Your love for me so that I can live out that love with those around me. Help me weed through what the world has taught me about sacrificial love to fully see what You have taught and shown me. I want to trust You not only in words but in how I live love out loud.