Preventive Measure

Genesis 32:13-21

13 He spent the night there, and from what he had with him he selected a gift for his brother Esau: 14two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16He put them in the care of his servants, each herd by itself, and said to his servants, “Go ahead of me, and keep some space between the herds.”

17He instructed the one in the lead: “When my brother Esau meets you and asks, ‘Who do you belong to, and where are you going, and who owns all these animals in front of you?’ 18then you are to say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau, and he is coming behind us.’”

19He also instructed the second, the third and all the others who followed the herds: “You are to say the same thing to Esau when you meet him. 20And be sure to say, ‘Your servant Jacob is coming behind us.’” For he thought, “I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.” 21So Jacob’s gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp.

GPS Fail

There is no shortage of miserable stories of failure made by drivers who carelessly followed instructions from their GPS (Global Positioning System).

Police officers responded to a call for a vehicle on the railroad tracks.

A woman was driving on a highway parallel to the railroad tracks and her GPS directed her down the railroad tracks. The driver was sober. She had no medical conditions that may have affected her decision-making. Her car was towed, and she was ticketed for careless driving.

It is advisable to get much information about the best way to take when travelling. Careless drivers don’t take preventive measures when travelling to unfamiliar places. They have so much trust in the accuracy of their GPS. Such trust is an example of misguided faith. Such faith did not originate from God.

In comparison to faith in Christ, we trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior with the saving faith that God has given us. This saving faith is God’s gift to believers.

Apostle Paul reminds all believers in Ephesians 2:8-9, 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—9not by works, so that no one can boast. 

With His merciful grace, God has given us saving faith so that we believe that Christ has been crucified to pay for the penalty of our sins. All mankind has committed sin and rebelled against God. The punishment of sin is eternal death. And, we were supposed to be destined to eternal death.

But by faith, we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, and He saved us. And, we hope that He will come back one day to take us into His eternal heaven.

It teaches us in Romans 8:24-25, 24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

We celebrate yearly Advent Season because of the hope that Christ will return—His Second Advent. We can patiently wait for Christ’s Second Advent because the Holy Spirit, Christ’s Spirit has produced the fruit of patience in us.

Did you care much about the Judgment Day? On Judgment Day, God will punish all who won’t believe in Christ. What would you do if you are scared of eternal punishment that God prepared for unbelievers? Have you done any preventive measure, yet? Have you sincerely trusted Christ as your Savior?

If you were scared about the Judgment Day, you accepted Christ as your Savior as necessary preventive measure. Because of that, you can understand why Jacob had to make necessary preventive measure because he was scared of what his brother Esau may have planned to do once they see each other.

As preventive measure, Jacob selected the best gift he can give to Esau.

1. Selection

13 He spent the night there, and from what he had with him he selected a gift for his brother Esau: 14two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16He put them in the care of his servants, each herd by itself, and said to his servants, “Go ahead of me, and keep some space between the herds.”

Previously, Jacob sent messengers to inform his brother Esau about his arrival. When they returned, they reported that his brother Esau was coming to meet him, and 400 men were with him. That information may have scared Jacob was all the more. Why did Esau take 400 men with him? Did he prepare for war?

Jacob instructed his messengers to inform Esau that he had accumulated much wealth, and that he had male and female servants. When Esau heard about it, he may have wanted to show Jacob that he has also become powerful, and the 400 men with him were his followers. Did Esau plan to show his force?

The guilty feeling of Jacob may have troubled him so that he considered every possible situation that may come. Jacob has become exceedingly wealthy that he selected the best gift he can give to find favor with his brother Esau.

Camels used for racing in the Middle East are worth millions. Since Jacob selected the best gift, the worth of camels he sent to his brother could have been millions of dollars. This is not to mention 220 goats, 220 sheep, 40 cows, 10 bulls, and 30 donkeys. The selected gift of Jacob to Esau was worth a fortune.

Jacob exemplified preventive measure for the safety of his household. How much do we value our eternal safety so that we would give the best gift we have just to find God’s favor? We can nothing to save ourselves. Only Christ our Savior can save us, by faith in Him. And, as practical proof that we genuinely believe in Christ, we respond to present the best gift we can give.

The Parable of the Shrewd Manager

Christ told a parable of the shrewd manager who wisely prepared for his future when he heard his termination as manager.

Jesus instructed in Luke 16:9-12, 9I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. 10Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

We came into this world and brought nothing. In short, we’re just stewards, managers of things we have in this world. Really? Yes! And, just like the shrewd manager, time will come when the Lord terminates us as manager of everything He gave us. We will leave this world with nothing. What life should we expect, when everything in our care, including our life, will be taken away from us?

Surely, lifestyle on earth will translate into eternity. Whatever we do in this life has eternal significance and consequences. Christ is the Author of life. He knows what should be done to prepare for life after our earthly life ends.

He instructed us in Matthew 6:19-21, 19Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Well, it is great to save some for retirement. Yet, we must accept that not everyone has the privilege to live long enough to enjoy one’s retirement savings and benefits. We should plan for long life, to enjoy retirement savings but we must make sure that we have earned much eternal treasures. The instructions of Christ are actually specifications on how we may earn our eternal treasures.

2. Specification

17He instructed the one in the lead: “When my brother Esau meets you and asks, ‘Who do you belong to, and where are you going, and who owns all these animals in front of you?’ 18then you are to say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau, and he is coming behind us.’” 19He also instructed the second, the third and all the others who followed the herds: “You are to say the same thing to Esau when you meet him. 

Jacob specified the exact statement he wanted his servants to tell his brother Esau. Although he was scared of Esau, Jacob was also optimistic that he will find favor in his brother’s eyes because he selected the best gift he can give.

Selecting the best gift was Jacob’s gesture of his sincerity to have peace with his brother. Well, Jacob could have just instructed his servants to separate a number of livestock he wanted to give to his brother but he did not. He personally selected the best gift he can give. Such is the work of God in the life of Jacob.

Giving the best gift was also a practical manifestation of Jacob’s faith in God. When faith in God is active, it affects us practically, lifestyle or decision, and we do what’s right and proper. We give gift out of love not out of obligation.

God gave us the best gift ever. What is the most precious gift of God for you? Have you received Him, yet? Jesus challenged the Samaritan woman in John 4:10, 10“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

It also reminds us in Romans 6:23, 23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have received eternal life, the most precious gift of God for you. To have eternal life is to become God’s child and to become citizen of heaven. To be God’s child and citizen of heaven is practically manifested in our action and lifestyle.

1 Peter 4:10 says, 10Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

When we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, God sent us the Spirit of Christ together with spiritual gifts. Each believer has received at least one spiritual gift. Others have received more as the Holy Spirit has determined.

It teaches us in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 4There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 7Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

Discover your spiritual gifts and use them. We earn our eternal treasures using our spiritual gift. How do we know our spiritual gifts? If you really are interested, attend our Sunday school! You can also ask or discuss with fellow believers, or ask your church leaders. Learn about it. Don’t just speculate.

3. Speculation

20And be sure to say, ‘Your servant Jacob is coming behind us.’” For he thought, “I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.” 21So Jacob’s gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp.

Jacob speculated what Esau may ask when he sees the selected gift that he sent ahead. So, he made it sure that his servants would say the right word or statement. Where did Jacob get the idea that his selected gift would calm down Esau? Jacob speculated the reaction of Esau, and he expected peaceful reunion with his brother Esau. But, he stayed behind to gather his composure.

Jacob speculated that his brother was still angry with him, and he did not take his chances. He planned and personally selected the best gift he can give, and expected that Esau will accept his gift. Faith in God affects our mindset to do the best we could, to give the best gift we can so that we won’t regret later.

Widow’s Offering

It was written in Mark 12:41-44, 41Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

43Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 they all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

Many would notice what the rich gave but not with Christ. He is Lord of lords. He actively observes each person’s lifestyle. He knew who gives the best. He will reward them accordingly. It’s not about how much we give that counts before the Lord. It’s our willingness to be His instruments for His purposes.

Cracked Can

A story was told about an old woman who had two water cans which were attached to a yoke. Each day she put the yoke over her shoulders and went down to the river, filled the cans, and walked back to her modest hut. The water can on the right side of the yoke was fine and sturdy; when she arrived home it was always full. But the can on the left had a crack in it. By the time the woman arrived home, half the water was usually gone.

The water can with a crack in it always felt inferior to its partner. It was ashamed that it has cracked and can’t bring water to the widow’s home. One day, the water can with a crack turned to the woman and apologized for being defective. The woman smiled gently and said: “Did you think I didn’t know that you had a crack, and water dripped from you? Look at the path from the river to my hut. Do you see all the beautiful flowers that are growing on the one side of the path? Those are the flowers that I planted there, that you watered every day as I walked home from the river.”

Stop comparing to others what you can do or what you can give to God. God knows our limitations but He still wanted to use us for His purposes.

As we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we are reminded of Christ’s Second Advent. We are also reminded to make sure we have received the gift of eternal life. Our lifestyle practically reveals if we have eternal life. So don’t just speculate.

Pray and ask God for you to know how you can be God’s instrument for His purposes in His kingdom. Pray that you can give your best for His purposes.

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