Money and Family
But that day Laban removed the male goats that were striped and spotted, and all the female goats that were speckled and spotted, every one that had white on it, and every lamb that was black, and put them in the charge of his sons. Genesis 30:35
In my addiction, I used my prescribing power to divert opioids for my own use. I understood it was evil. I just really wanted pills. When I was discovered, I tried to lie my way out of it, but I never tried to justify it. I knew it was blatantly wrong. My addiction did a lot of things to my brain, but I never got to the point where I actually believed that diverting drugs was good and right.
Something very different often happens to our brains though when money is involved. Money can warp our thinking, making wrong seem right. The more money is involved, the more dramatic the change can be. We all believe that greed is wrong. We all believe in justice and fairness. When money is at stake though, our sense of morality can become distorted and right simply becomes about that which benefits us – even if that comes at a cost to those around us, even family.
Today’s passage illustrates this phenomenon. In the story, Jacob had worked for his father-in-law, Laban, for years and felt it was time to take his family and go back home. The two struck a deal in which Jacob’s wages would be all the blemished (flawed and fewer in number) sheep and goats born to Laban’s flocks. Laban agreed, because it was a really good deal for him. Then, further tipping the scales in his balance, Laban secretly removed all the imperfect animals and hid them, so that Jacob wouldn’t find their blemished offspring. When it came to finances, Laban blatantly tried to cheat and rob Jacob, his own family.
When we see greed in others, we recognize it. When faced with the possibility of personal profit though, greed can easily twist our own thinking so that we don’t recognize it in ourselves. Most of us have witnessed this. We’ve seen families tear themselves apart over a family inheritance. Money changes people, making them believe that any action is justified if it benefits them financially. When money is at stake, morality becomes determined, not by right and wrong, but by profit.
We can’t change anyone else. We’re simply responsible for ourselves. When it comes to money, we must always go to God, asking what is right and what is wrong. Daily, we must make sure we’re following God – even if it means that others may take financial advantage of us. Money is never worth the guilt of behaving badly ourselves.