And when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said to Jacob, Give me children, or else I die.…
Rachel envied her sister. Jacob's love for Rachel a type of Christ's love for his Church. We cannot doubt that his love was returned. There was thus the chief element of conjugal happiness. But her sister, less favored in this, had a blessing which was denied her, and "Rachel envied her sister." It was not that she feared to lose her husband's love. Of that she had abundant proof: It was a selfish sorrow. Her husband's children were growing up, but they were not hers. Rachel's envy has its counterpart among Christians. Love for Christ may take the form of selfish zeal; unwillingness to acknowledge or rejoice in work for God in which we take no part. In the spiritual history of the world a blessing often seems to rest upon means irregular or unlikely. Where efforts that promised well have failed, God makes his own power felt; and many think this cannot be right (cf. John 9:16), and would rather have the work not done than done thus (cf. Numbers 11:28; Mark 9:38). Contrast the spirit of St. Paul (Philippians 1:18). Examples of this: unwillingness to rejoice in good done by some other communion, or some other party than our own; inclination to look at points of difference rather than at those held in common; the work of others doubted, criticized, or ignored; eagerness to warn against this or that. Self lies at the root of this. Perhaps the harvest of another seems to diminish ours. Perhaps our own thoughts are to us the measure of God's plans (cf. Mark 14:4). Men see the outside of others' work, and judge as if they knew both the motives and the full results. Yet with this there may be much real zeal and love for the Lord. The failure lies in the want of complete acceptance of his will. To rejoice in work for Christ, by whomsoever done, is not inconsistent with decided views as to the objects to be aimed at, and the means to be used (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
1. We are called to enlarge the household of God; to be the means of making enemies into children (cf. Psalm 87:4, 5) through producing faith (cf. John 1:12). Each responsible for the faithful use of the powers given to us, and bidden to examine ourselves as to sincerity. But the visible results are as God pleases. Here a test of singleness of mind. Can we rejoice in success of a work in which we have no share, or when another's success appears greater than ours? (Galatians 5:26).
2. As an exercise of unselfishness, be careful not to provoke envy by parading distinctive peculiarities (Romans 12:18) or exalting our own work.
3. Be not discouraged that work of others seems more blessed (John 4:36, 37). Faithfulness is within the power of all. It is that which God regards (Matthew 25:21). The result we cannot judge of here. The fruit delayed may prove a greater blessing. - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die.