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False start?

"Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.” Genesis 29.27


Are you noticing the longer evenings? Maybe, maybe not. If you are an early riser, you may share the feeling that, in putting the clocks forward, we have taken a step back into winter. Soon, however, the mornings will catch up, as the sun rises ever earlier and summer will be upon us...


When reading the biographies of people who have made their mark on history, it is striking how many had to overcome a setback - often due to serious illness or a catastrophic business or moral failure - earlier in their lives, before achieving greatness.


In the Bible, the story of Jacob is striking. Having fallen in love with his uncle Laban's younger daughter, Rachel, Jacob commits to seven years of hard labour to win her hand in marriage. Laban tricks Jacob into spending his wedding night with Rachel's elder sister, Leah. On discovering the deception in the cold light of day, Jacob willingly submits to a further seven years of hard labour in return for Rachel too. (Polygamy was allowed then!)


Setting aside the moral ambiguity of multiple marriage, the example of Jacob shines an interesting light on our willingness to work and to wait for what we value. Jacob laboured seven years before earning the right to touch Rachel. But, in resolving his deception at the hands of Uncle Laban, he was allowed to take Rachel as his wife alongside her sister Leah with his second period of service following the reward. So his is a case of both: pay now-buy later and buy now - pay later.


Some things in life today cannot be delayed: somewhere to live being the prime example. On account of exorbitant house prices, most of us would be in retirement before acquiring a home, were it not for mortgages. On the other hand, most other purchases should be delayed until we can afford them, otherwise we can plunge ourselves into spiralling debt.


Wisdom comes with discerning what matters most and in applying our gifts and opportunities towards these goals. Jesus reduces it to a series of binary decisions: God or money, self or others, heaven or hell? Life may seem more complicated yet, if we break it down to its underlying principles, the choices before us will become clearer.

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