Several months ago, I watched an old “Alfred Hitchcock Hour” show called “How to get rid of your wife.” It was a black comedy about the lengths one man went through to get rid of his wife. Essentially, he convinced her that he was trying to kill her, and in so doing, got her to try to kill him. She was then arrested and thrown into prison, and he went scot free. Kind of. You have to see the episode to find the twist at the end.
Anyway, it was basically a story of nasty people dealing with nasty people. The wife in the story wasn’t exactly a wonderful person either.
The episode came to mind as I read the last part of the story concerning Jacob and Laban. Moses could’ve titled this story, “How to get rid of your son-in-law. (And your daughters too).” Laban may not have been trying consciously to get rid of Jacob, but it sure is hard to believe he couldn’t see the potential consequences of what he was doing.
I’m just amazed at all the things Laban did to Jacob. First he deceives Jacob into marrying Leah. Then he makes Jacob work another 7 years to get Rachel. Then he makes an agreement where Jacob would take care of all of Laban’s sheep and goats, with all the spotted and striped ones becoming Jacob’s. But no sooner do they make the agreement, than Laban takes all the spotted and striped animals from the flock and puts those animals in the care of his other sons, leaving only the white ones with Jacob. He of course thought that by doing so, there was little chance that there would be many striped or spotted animals being born for Jacob’s flock. When that didn’t work, Laban unilaterally changed the terms of the agreement 10 times.
What in the world was Laban thinking? When Jacob confronts him with all this, Laban doesn’t even apologize. He just says, “Well, they were all my daughters and flocks to begin with.”
One wonders if Laban really couldn’t see how his attitude had not only wrecked his relationship with Jacob, but with his own daughters as well. Leah and Rachel saw how Laban had treated them, and they felt like they had just been sold off like slaves or farm animals simply for the money. (Although Rachel at least had the comfort of knowing that Jacob loved her. Leah didn’t even have that much).
So how can we wreck our relationships? I’ll put this in the context of marriage, but you can apply this in just about any relationship.
1. Dishonesty. Trust is essential to any relationship, and when you are dishonest in your dealings with people, it’s a good way to destroy your relationships. In the Hitchcock film, it started with the husband complaining that his wife had deceived him into thinking she was a completely different kind of person while they were dating. And it was only when they got married, that his wife showed her true colors. How often do people do that when they’re dating others? They pretend to be someone they’re not, and in so doing, lay a foundation for their relationship that cannot stand the test of time.
2. Having no respect for others’ feelings. Or at the very least, being completely oblivious to them. When your husband or wife says you’re doing something that upsets them, do you just say, “You’re too sensitive.” Or do you really consider their feelings, and try to place them above your own? It’s all well and good to tell someone, “I want you to be honest with me.” But when they are honest about how your actions or words make them feel, do you make the effort to change, or do you just think they’re being too petty?
3. Selfishness and pride. I have no idea whether Laban was merely so selfish that he couldn’t see his actions were wrong, or whether he was too proud to apologize. Either way, he was wrong. And whether you struggle with pride or selfishness, either can effectively destroy a relationship. When we become so selfish that we can’t even realize it, we start to demean people, and it allows us to justify just about any action that we do, no matter how wrong it is. And when we become so proud that we can’t admit when we’re wrong, it puts a wall in our relationships that will only grow with time. How many marriages have you known that were torn apart by selfishness and pride.
How are your relationships? Would someone be able to write a script about your life called, “How to get rid of your wife/husband/best friend/etc?” If you truly care about the people in your life, take a look at yourself, and start rooting out anything that would tear those relationship apart.
Lord, watch over my relationships, especially with my daughter and wife. Let me never do anything that would wreck our relationships. Help me to be honest with them. Help me respect their feelings. And keep pride and selfishness far from me. Wherever I am failing in these areas, please reveal it to me and help me to change. In Jesus name, amen.