A few months ago I was encouraged by an online video of Southern Baptist Convention president J.D. Greear calling for prayer and “a new posture.” I think this is an appropriate challenge to SBC pastors, as well as other tribes because God has called us to walk in a posture of humility instead of a posture of pride.

I don’t know of anyone in the Bible who walked with a more prideful posture than Jacob. In Genesis we see Jacob, one of our spiritual patriarchs, bulldozing everyone who got in his way. Jacob means grabber, and he was good at it. Coming out of the womb, Jacob grabbed his twin brother’s heel—thus earning him a name and a reputation.

As a young man, he perfected the art of grabbing by taking Esau’s birthright and blessing. In this ambitious grab at the family fortune, Jacob not only took advantage of his starving brother, but also his blind father. In fear of repercussions, he snuck out of town for two decades.  

During those twenty years, he met his wife and started strutting again. In the process of swindling his father-in-law, he learned that he was not the only gamer in town. As family resentment inevitable caught up with Jacob again, he predictably bolted. With nowhere else to go, Jacob headed back home to mend fences with his twin brother and father.

This reunion was frightening for Jacob because the last thing he heard Esau say was, “I’m gonna kill you!” As usual, Jacob had a plan.

The day before meeting Esau, he sent several groups of messengers with gifts to hopefully pacify Esau. Jacob was still in control, working his angle until he finally met his match. Jacob finally came to the end of himself when he wrestled with God all night. God “struck Jacob’s hip socket as they wrestled and dislocated his hip” (Genesis 32:25). So much for strutting!

Jacob was never the same after he wrestled with God. Only the Lord can permanently change a person’s nature, which means there is hope for the rest of us.  

Only God can turn our fear into faith

Jacob finally came to the end of the line—and himself. The fear of Esau and Laban drove him to his knees. After being pinned to the mat by God, Jacob got up a new man with a new healthy fear of God instead of an unhealthy fear of Esau or Laban.

The Lord is my light and my salvation —whom should I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life —whom should I dread? (Psalm 27:1)

In response to the fact that 1:3 British clergy have been attacked on church grounds, Avon Silversmiths of London introduced a $280 crucifix with built-in screeching alarm. We need to hide behind the real cross if we want to live and serve with real security.

Only God can turn a grabber into a giver

“What is your name? (Jacob).”  God already knew — exposing sin before he saved him from it.  Jacob’s name reflected his nature. Every time he introduced himself, he basically said, “My name is grabber/ cheater/schemer.”

God gave him a new name to reflect his new nature: “Israel” which either means “God rules/prevails” or “Prince of God.” Either way, scholars translate Israel, it amounts to a huge upgrade. Jacob had to die to self before Israel could exist, which is why there is thankfully no nation of “Jacob” today.

Jesus taught, “Watch out and be on guard against all greed because one’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).

God can turn our pride into humility

Jacob thought he was untouchable. Since he successfully manipulated everybody else; why not God also? God knew exactly where to touch Jacob, and he knows your points of vulnerability as well.

Why did they wrestle all night? Jacob was a wild stallion who desperately needed to be broken. God had to break him to bless him, and it is no different for you and me. He will pin our will to the mat of submission in order to break our will. Who is in control of your life and ministry right now?

I have been a Southern Baptist my whole life and agree with my friend that our posture must change if we prefer God’s hand of favor over his hand of discipline. So, let’s refuse to wrestle with each other and start clinging to God. Let’s change our posture before God does it for us.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time. (1 Peter 5:6)

Photo by Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash