Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Leah and the Quest for Approval

By: Rebekah Hargraves

Photo Courtesy of: Sandra Seitamaa

“She conceived again and bore a son, and said, ‘Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.’ Therefore his name was called Levi….Then Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. And Leah said, ‘God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons.' So she called his name Zebulun.” ~Genesis 29:34, 30:19-20

Can you imagine being Leah? We touched on her story a bit last week when discussing her sister, Rachel, but today we will zero in on her side of things. Here she was, the eldest of Laban’s daughters (meaning that, in that type of patriarchal culture, the firstborn daughter had to be married off first - see Genesis 29:26) and described as “Leah’s eyes were delicate, but Rachel was beautiful of form and appearance (Genesis 29:17).” 

Here Leah was, stuck in the culture of the time and forced to be married to a man who didn’t love her, but instead loved her younger, far more beautiful sister. Her story reads like a soap opera, but sadly it isn’t. It’s true. It’s precisely what Leah endured. And the other thing she endured is a near-constant feeling, for some time, of being unloved and unwanted, first by her father and then by her husband. 

In Genesis 29 and 30 we see a desperation on Leah’s part. She is desperate for her husband to love her and, because of the cultural teachings of the day, believes that if she can only bear enough sons for her husband, that he will finally esteem her. She tries again and again to earn his love, going through pregnancy and childbirth three, four, five, six times, all out of the hope that “now this time my husband will become attached to me” and “now my husband will dwell with me”. 

Though bearing children may not be the primary way in which women seek to earn love today, it does still happen. And there are a multitude of other ways in which women strive to earn love, as well. Some change the way they dress, others change the way they look, while still others may change how they eat, live, exercise, rest, work, or speak in order to try to earn the approval of others. Much of the selfie-culture on social media is truly nothing more than our attempts to earn the love, admiration, respect, praise, and the attention of others. 

When believers act in this same ways, what it reveals is a real lack of understanding as to the love of God for us, His children. Romans 8:31-33 says, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Truly, if we want to know whether or not God loves us, all we need to do is keep our eyes fixed on the cross, and we will know all we need to know about the depth and richness of His love.

Something important to note is that sometimes one of the reasons we are so distracted from the reality of Christ's love for us is because we are striving to earn that love. 

We feel we can’t just “be still and know” (see Psalm 46:10) because then we wouldn’t be accomplishing anything to earn love or prove our worth. The ironic and sad thing, however, is that this antithetical-to-the-gospel teaching is actually keeping us from being able to know, grasp, and live in light of the gospel of Christ and the love that is, as a result, already ours.

If you are yearning for love, friend, look no further than the cross of Christ. Remember this: Jesus willingly chose to go to the cross for you. He was broken, punished, beaten, bruised, betrayed, and killed because He loved you and wanted to make a way for you to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. That is how much you are loved. Your quest for approval can be over.

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