We are born bent on our own ambitions. It’s in our nature to control and compete. And pride—often the source of this behavior—keenly notices the pride of others. Often, we want to point out the failing of the equally prideful and impose our own wills on them, while neglecting to see these traits in ourselves.
In Genesis 30, we find a myriad of characters who are bent on obtaining favor and selfish gain—often at the expense and exasperation of others. Rachel foolishly demands a son of Jacob (Genesis 30:1) and then—because the family dynamics weren’t complicated enough—she has her handmaid bear her a child via Jacob. When she finally obtains a son, she is not joyful—she is triumphant: “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister and have prevailed” (Genesis 30:8). Leah uses bribery and her own handmaid to gain the attention of her neglectful husband, while Laban and Jacob continue circling, using and manipulating one another (Genesis 30:16, 25–36).
Though the battle is often with the other, ultimately the battle of wills ends with God. When we are bent on our own way with others, we don’t think about the one who leads and directs our lives. In Genesis 30, God is the one who is in control of events. Only when He “listened to Leah” or “remembers” Rachel do they bear children (Genesis 30:17, 22–23).
Our wills are actually battling His, not theirs. The Great commandment in Matthew 22:37-40 presents another approach and mode of operation: “You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” If we first submit to this, the second will be easier: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
When we are right with God and we realize how patient He is with our weaknesses, we can learn to be patient with others.