Grandparents often joke with their children about getting the same kind of children they were, especially if they were rascals. "Just you wait," they say. "Your children will be just like you when you were growing up." Often that is true.
Let's continue to look at Jacob and his life for a moment. Yes, Jacob showed favoritism among his sons and they were rivals for his affection. Where might he have experienced favoritism and sibling rivalry in his own life? Jacob had a twin brother named Esau. He and Esau were rivals for their parents' affection. The Scripture tells us that Esau was a hunter and a man of the open country while Jacob was a quiet man who stayed at home. Their father Isaac loved Esau, and their mother Rebekah loved Jacob.
So Jacob grew up with favoritism being shown by his parents and in rivalry with his brother Esau (Genesis 25:19 -27:45). As a father himself, Jacob showed favoritism among his sons and experienced rivalry among them too. His boys turned out just like him and his brother Esau.
For reflection: What habits of my parents have I carried forward into my life? Are they good or bad habits?
Let us pray. Father God, I thank you for my parents. I thank you for the love they showed to me and that they did their best to raise me to adulthood. I thank you for being my Father also, for keeping me under your wing even today.
I ask you to help me forgive my parents for not being everything that I needed them to be. I repent of judging them for what they did and did not do. I forgive them for not being perfect parents. (It is important to forgive them as specifically as you can in this type of prayer.) I ask you, Father, to bring to my mind the other things for which I need to forgive my parents. (Pay attention to memories that come up in the next couple of weeks. As God brings these to mind, forgive your parents for them.)
I repent of carrying on my parents' bad habits in my own life and with my children. Forgive me for the bad ways I have acted toward my children (again, be specific and pay attention to memories that arise in the next couple of weeks). Help me to see my children through your loving eyes, Father. You are the only perfect Father. Help me to be more like you.
As another area needing forgiveness let's look at a bad case of sibling rivalry. The story of Joseph and his brothers from Genesis 37 - 50 is one of the most well known in the Bible. It begins with Joseph's 10 older brothers being jealous of him because "Dad liked him best". There is plenty of blame to go around in this story, and plenty of repentance and forgiveness needed.
First, the boys' dad, Jacob, should not have shown preference among his sons. Yet he did it so blatantly that they all recognized it (Genesis 37:3-4). So Jacob, head of the family, is the instigator and definitely at fault. Jacob should have repented and asked his sons' forgiveness.
Second, the older brothers got fed up with the favoritism. Instead of confronting their father about it though, they took it out on Joseph.
Third, Joseph should not have been flaunting his pride of place in front of his brothers, even if he was younger and less responsible than they.
For Reflection: Let's concentrate on Jacob's role today. Is there any place in my life where I have shown favoritism when I should not have? At home? At work? Why am I showing favoritism? (Read James 2:1-13)
Let us pray. Father, thank you for revealing to me where I am showing favoritism. I repent of that and I ask your help in correcting my attitude and my feelings. I ask your forgiveness for treating others unfairly. Please help me to treat them the way you want me to treat them.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.