Formations Lesson for August 1- Parental Favoritism
July 20 2010 by Don Gordon, senior pastor, Yates Baptist Church, Durham

Focal passage: Genesis 25:21-34

I have three daughters and they all claim the other is the favorite child. The oldest laments that her life has been more controlled and that we were stricter with her than the others. She’s right. The second oldest claims the youngest gets off the easiest and that the oldest is always put in charge when the parents are gone. She’s right. The youngest complains that the oldest is put in charge and that the two of them gang up on her because they can. She’s right. They all claim favoritism falls on someone else. This gives me a good deal of comfort. It’s like coaches and fans complaining equally about the quality of the refereeing in the basketball game.

The story of Jacob and Esau can be interpreted many ways. For purposes of this commentary we will focus on the interplay of parental favoritism and the grand purposes of God.

The story begins with a prayer from Isaac because his wife, Rebekah, is barren.

God answers their prayers and puts two boys in her womb.

Even in the womb their movements provide ironic evidence that a long struggle between them and their offspring lies ahead: “Two nations are in your womb and two peoples within you will be separated” (25:23).

Esau comes out of the womb first, red and hairy. He is loved by his father Isaac, supposedly because he’s an outdoorsman. Jacob, clinging to the heel of Esau, comes out second. He is loved by his mother because he hangs out in the kitchen and helps around the house (v. 28).

What we have in this story is the fascinating interplay between God’s providence and human sin. Jacob, the heel, is destined to rule over Esau, the first born. His mother is going to connive and manipulate circumstances to see that Jacob comes out on top. Isaac is too oblivious to family dynamics to guide his family away from destructive conflict. Did parental favoritism cause the conflicts in the family or are the family conflicts the means through which God carries out His will? It’s a mystery that runs throughout the Bible all the way to the cross of Jesus Christ.

Having raised three wonderful daughters I can attest to the natural gravitation toward certain children because of personality similarities and common interests.

Yet, this should be a prompt to be especially mindful of spending time and showing love overtly to our children with whom our differences are greatest. Love all your children equally, but love the ones who need extra love more equally than others.  
7/20/2010 7:23:00 AM by Don Gordon, senior pastor, Yates Baptist Church, Durham | with 0 comments

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