Jacob and Esau Reconcile – Genesis 32:1-33:20
Reconciliation Requires more than Bribery!
In the first part of this story, Jacob reminds me of a divorced parent who continually tries to buy the love of their child through extravagant gifts. If you’ve ever watched a child get spoiled by the increasingly expensive gifts bought by one (or sometimes both) parents, you know exactly what I mean.
It seems as though the story begins with Jacob trying to protect his assets, thinking that Esau may attack one group and then leave the other group alone. Then it progresses to Jacob trying to buy forgiveness by offering the livestock and servants as gifts.
But finally all of this foolishness is broken… not by Jacob, but by Esau–the party that had been most wronged. Jacob starts bowing before his brother in hopes of mitigating the damage–but Esau runs to Jacob and embraces him.
Reconciliation requires true confession and forgiveness. We can’t simply “be sorry that we were caught,” or try to buy our way into someone’s heart. We have to be willing to go to them and offer confession and receive forgiveness, in hopes of beginning again with a fresh slate.
But I also notice that the story really changes when Esau makes the first move and offers forgiveness. Often we find that it is the party that was wronged that has the most power to bring about reconciliation, simply by forgiving the other person.
Is there someone you can forgive today? Are there ways that you can more fully live as one who’s been forgiven?
I’ll walk with joy to know my debts are paid.
I know my name is clear before my Father;
I am His child, and I am not afraid.
So greatly pardoned, I’ll forgive my brother;
The law of love I gladly will obey.
– Gloria Gaither