• By Pastor Boffey
  • on Thursday, April 8, 2010
Genesis 33:13-14 (13) And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die. (14) Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir. In the Book of Ruth, Naomi said upon returning to her people, “I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty...” (RUTH 1:21). Quite the opposite was true here of Jacob, who was returning homeward to meet his brother (and one-time threat) Esau. Jacob had years before escaped from his homeland with the skin of his teeth but God was now bringing him home full: attending him was an impressive retinue of children, servants and flocks. David's words about his own experience sum up such fair turns, “He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me” (PSA 18:19). Jacob sets forth a good example of leadership here: recognizing that overdriving those under one's care can be destructive. It is a valid principle that applies to civil government, to the workplace, to the church and to families for example. Civil government which overdrives its citizens with unrealistic and onerous taxation must ever keep the cost of resistance higher than the cost of submission to discourage the citizenry from rebelling and appointing new guardians of their liberties. But until the people can take it no longer and rise up against their government out of a sense of self-preservation, the tactic of advancing an ever-higher cost of resistance can crush the spirit of the people to where they become like the Israelites who “...hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage” (EXO 6:9). And so an oppressive civil government habitually “goes ostrich” and stupidly crushes its own eggs, being hardened against them (JOB 39:13-17 c/w LAM 4:3), so to speak. Wise civil government knows that it is in its own best interest to promote economic liberty amongst the citizenry and to punish the parasites rather than the host. Wise employers also concede the value of Jacob's rule. They understand that unrelenting demands upon the time and labors of their employees result in such backlashes as bolting, high employee turnover rates, on-the-job accidents, corner-cutting, mistakes, etc.---all of which contribute to diminished productivity and lost market advantage. They know that employees need reasonable time for rest (and some employers consider specified days-off and vacation time as mandatory for that reason). Our God rested the seventh day from all His works (HEB 4:4) that we might know the godliness of rest and not running in continual overdrive. Our Lord Jesus Christ, having once inspired the Psalmist to write, “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep” (PSA 127:2) did Himself tell His disciples, “...Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while...” (MAR 6:31). Even with all that was demanding their attention, and all that had yet to be accomplished in the few days before He would be taken from them, Christ thought it best to not overdrive these little ones. “Little children, yet a little while I am with you...” (JOH 13:33). It is sad to see God's children being driven to fatigue and despair by a false belief promoted by their spiritual leaders, thinking they dare not falter in their assumed course lest they fail God---the same God Who actually gives men bearable burdens and rest in Christ (MAT 11:28-30). If one's religion is running him into the ground, he might want to check it against the religion of the Pharisees: “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers” (MAT 23:4). As a pastor, I have sought to keep church meetings to a reasonable minimum for I have seen the opposite where the church overdrives its members to the point that church becomes toxic to individual and family well-being. The race that is set before us is to be run with patience (HEB 12:1) not perpetual anxiety. Parents, especially fathers, of young children do well to heed Jacob's wisdom to only burden their children (as our text states) as they “...be able to endure.” King David took note that his special son, Solomon, was at one point “...yet young and tender, and the work is great...” (1CH 29:1) and so did not assume that it was appropriate for Solomon at that time to bear such a huge responsibility as would be better suited to a mature man. Jesus knows well the need to lead considerately: “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young” (ISA 40:11). Whereas children should be held to high expectations (and particularly in a culture which is tending to do the opposite), to hold them to excessively high demands can push them to unnecessary discouragement out of frustration: “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged” (COL 3:21). If a parent's expectation of a child to excel at a sport or in academics is so high that the child develops anger or hatred for the very thing that he is supposed to excel at, then some tempering of expectations might be in order. How many of us have witnessed parents compensating for their own perceived inadequacies or missed opportunities by living vicariously through their overdriven children's performance on a sports field? It has been observed that some oriental cultures place such high expectations of success on their children that to lose at a given undertaking is a personal disgrace, a family disgrace or in some instances (such as in sports) a national disgrace. It should be no wonder that such a culture also has a disproportionately high level of childhood/youth psychoses and suicides. Let all authority's transmission of expectations be geared reasonably to the capacity of those under it---and keep it out of overdrive.

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The Cincinnati Church is an historic baptist church located in Cincinnati, OH.