Do I Have To?

March 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Cheri Cowell –

I don’t know what it is about children, but they all seem to be wired from birth with that same phrase. I’m sure you can hear the whine in that question, and if you are like me, you can picture yourself standing before your parents as you pleaded your case. If our parents let us get away with that too many times, we probably learned the pattern well and carry it with us today. Maybe not in the same tone or with the same childlike flair, but it is still there. Perhaps it looks more like a roll of the eyes, a big sigh, or maybe a digging in of your heels when someone asks you to do something you don’t want to do. Maybe you label such a person as a nagger, without regard to your own shortcomings. I have to admit I am guilty of all these things. Why do we do this and what is our solution? The Bible offers the answer in today’s passage.

Don’t get caught up in the customs of endowments and polygamy presented in this story. Instead, focus on the heart of Jacob. When he was asked what his wages for working on Laban’s land should be, Jacob requested Rachel’s hand in marriage in return for seven years of labor. Do you focus more easily on the work to be done or the reward to be given for work well done? When Jacob discovered he had been tricked, he was angry, and rightfully so. Yet, instead of taking revenge, he agreed to work another seven years to rightfully earn Rachel as his wife. When we are wronged, it is okay to get angry, but then we must decide to make the situation right. If you tend to blame others instead of looking at your own responsibility in the situation, take a lesson from Jacob and fix your eyes on the bigger prize. It will help the decisions you must make a little easier to handle.

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, for the prize You offer that is bigger than any obstacle I may face here on earth. Help me focus on that heavenly reward and not on the work to be done. Help me acknowledge Jacob’s lesson by allowing myself to get angry when someone has wronged me, but to then quickly turn my eyes toward the reward.

“When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, ‘What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?’ Laban replied, ‘It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.’ And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. Laban gave his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her attendant. Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years” (Genesis 29:25-30 NIV).

Today’s devotion is by Cheri Cowell, who writes and speaks on topics of Christian discipleship. Her first book, Direction: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life, is called a biblically grounded no-nonsense approach to decision-making. To order your copy or to learn more about Cheri, visit her website

About Cheri Cowell

Cheri Cowell is the author of the new Bible study, Parables and Word Pictures of the New Testament: Following God series


2 Responses to “Do I Have To?”
  1. Alan Mowbray says:

    Hi Cheri!
    What a coincidence!
    I’m currently teaching my 9 year-old this lesson.
    He’s learning there are times to push the issue, and times to hold back. He’s still working on the timing part, but I’m confident he’ll get it.
    Thanks for the scripture reference I can add to my repertoire when discussing this issue.

  2. cheri cowell says:

    What a great Dad you are – this is a difficult lesson even for adults, so I’m also impressed with your 9yr old. There are times I still get this one wrong- Lord, please help me.


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