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And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured. And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter. (Genesis 29:16~18)
The Process of the Heart Developing
We can see when we read the Bible that it talks about the world of the heart of man. Whether a humble and meek heart is developed in man, or an arrogant, wicked, and rugged heart is formed in man, there is a certain process involved for these hearts to be formed. These hearts are formed by this process. You cannot become humble or meek through your own effort. Then, how do our hearts become arrogant and how do they become humble? The Bible precisely shows us the image of our hearts becoming humbled in order to lead us to humbleness because we cannot understand these things alone. On the other hand, Satan constantly leads us to become arrogant and hardened. What we are going to talk about today clearly shows us how man’s heart develops. Jacob was living at the house of his uncle, Laban. One day, Laban said, “Because you are my brother, should you therefore serve me for nothing? What should your wages be?” Laban had two daughters: Leah, who was the elder one, and Rachel, who was the younger one. Leah was tender-eyed while Rachel was lovely and beautiful. Do you know what happens to women’s personalities when their faces are lovely and beautiful? Often, one’s personality is influenced by the people around you. People around women with lovely and beautiful faces recognize that they are beautiful. When a difficult feat is accomplished by a woman with a lovely and beautiful face, people say that what she did was heroic. However, when the same feat is done by a woman who is not so beautiful, the same people say that she must have been bitter. In addition, even though women with lovely and beautiful faces make mistakes, they are often looked upon forgivingly and their wrongdoings mostly overlooked or easily dismissed. Thus, women with beautiful faces naturally become proud and arrogant. They become unable to understand the hearts of others and are more likely to live self-centered lives. It is that you are not carefully observant of these things. If a woman with a lovely, beautiful face has a humble personality, she becomes a tremendously radiant person. However, people for the most part become proud and arrogant if they are a bit more lovely and beautiful than others. Because people are more understanding toward them, it becomes extremely difficult for them to bend their will, break themselves, or humble themselves. On the contrary, women with not so beautiful faces easily have their blemishes revealed with the slightest of mistakes. Thus, they are easily able to control and break themselves. This is how character is built.
Leah, Who Entered Jacob’s Bridal Room
Of Laban’s two daughters, Leah was tender-eyed, while Rachel was lovely and beautiful. Which of the two would Jacob want to marry? Needless to say, it was the lovely and beautiful Rachel he wanted to marry. Jacob tells Laban, “I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter.” Back then it was common for relatives to marry one another. Laban then makes a promise, saying, “Fine. It is better that I give her to you than to another man. I will give you Rachel if you serve me seven years.” Now Rachel and Jacob were in love. However, Leah, who should be marrying first because she is the older daughter, thinks of Rachel who will marry first. This makes Leah contemplate and have much time to reflect upon how weak she is. This was how the seven years passed, and Jacob finally married and decorated his bridal room. Surely, Jacob was supposed to marry Rachel, but that night, Laban told Leah to enter into the bridal room instead of Rachel. At that time, it was dark in the bridal room and one would not be able to tell who the bride was. Even so, Leah was dumbfounded. Jacob hates her and loves Rachel; this was something that completely went against her pride. She also thought, “Is this okay to do?” Most women would say, “Father, I would rather not get married if this is how it’s going to be. I will not do this. I know Jacob loves Rachel. I may be able to spend a night with him, but he will see me in the morning and hate me. I will forever be despised and treated with contempt. How could I go through with this? I’d rather get old as a virgin. I cannot do this.” However, Leah knew that she was ugly and lacking. She was not accustomed to exerting her opinions or perceptions. She was accustomed to denying herself and followed her father’s words.
From a Life of Rachel to a Life of Leah
I lived like Rachel. It was not that I was great that I lived like Rachel. Although one is pitiful, if he thinks of himself as being great, then he lives like Rachel. Even if a person is foolish, if he thinks that he is smart then he is number one in his own heart. Even if a person is pitiful, if he thinks he is great then he is that way in his own heart. For a long time, I lived spiritual life like Rachel. I thought I was great and I thought I was smart and I thought I was better than others. Thus, it was difficult for me to break my heart, and I often became upset when my suggested opinions were not accepted by my friends. Therefore, I always tried to break the opinions of others. Everything I wanted had to be adhered to, things had to go according to my will, everything I wanted to be done . . . . So it was only natural that my friends did not like me much.
One day, I received the tremendous grace of God to have an opportunity to see myself. Before, when I saw myself with my own eyes, I thought I was great and smart. But when I saw myself through the eyes God gave me, I was such a filthy, evil, dirty, foul, deceitful, and pitiful human being. Not only in theory, but I came to realize this deeply in my heart. After this, I looked upon my past. All the things I thought I did well and thought were going to go well, after some time, they did not work out. Ten out of ten and a hundred out of a hundred times they were all failures. However, I did not even know that. I only thought, “How did that happen? I did a good job . . . .” By the grace of God, I was able to come down from Rachel’s position to that of Leah. After coming down to Leah’s position, after becoming a pitiful person who can do nothing, the Word of God entered my heart exactly as it was.
The Reason Leah Could Have Her Heart
Leah’s pride would not allow her to enter the bridal room when Jacob wanted to marry her younger sister. “Father, Jacob loves Rachel. I may spend a night with him, but what will I do when he wakes up in the morning and sees me? Father, just let Rachel get married. I’m just going to live by myself.” This is what most women would say and come to decide. However, Leah was different. “Leah!” “Yes, Father.” “Go into Jacob’s room tonight and sleep there.” “Yes, Father, I will.” Leah could have this heart because she had emptied herself. When we look at the steps or paths the greats of the Bible took in their lives, there were no contentions or individual opinions in them. Why did they live this way? It was because they knew themselves precisely. For everything they do is a failure, ruined, and knew that they cannot do anything, they could no longer exalt themselves and exert their opinions. Now they were accepting the thoughts of someone who was greater than they were. The most difficult thing in spiritual life today for many people is just that. When their thoughts and the Word of God are complete opposites, without hesitation, they should throw their thoughts away and follow the Word of God. However, the problem is that this is easier said than done. The Lord says, “It is better to give than to receive,” but people think of receiving to be more blessed. The Lord says, “He that is abased will be exalted and he who is exalted will be abased.” However, people think that they have to push down and step on others to stand exalted. Many people live spiritual life with such thoughts. Therefore, it is not a problem when your thoughts and God’s thoughts do not differ, but problems in spiritual life arise because you are unable to break your thoughts and follow the Lord’s thoughts when they differ from one another. I don’t think there is a problem other than this. Thus, God continually humbles our hearts. Whether you have an ugly face, are crippled, have mental disabilities, have made mistakes, or have committed crimes, through all of these things, God moves you from the position of Rachel to the position of Leah. God leads you from a world of living in your own greatness, with your own opinions, into a world where you can only deny yourself. If you are someone who can think deeply, and deeply reflect upon yourself, you can only feel that you can only do so much even if you do well. You can see that in your business, or in rearing your children, just how truly lacking you are.
I Thought I Could Rear My Children Well
Before I was married, I made up my mind to rear my children well whenever I would become married and have children. When I saw children who were disorderly, I often thought, “How can his parents rear their kid like that?” But who would want to rear their children to be disorderly? Everyone wants to rear their children well, but it does not work out so well, and I had never considered that. I thought parents who had misbehaving children did so because they did not have the heart to rear their children properly. So I thought that I could rear my children properly if I just tried to. But after becoming married and having children myself, I one day came home late after witnessing, and saw that my daughter’s hand was completely wrapped in bandages. “Honey, why is Eun-sook’s hand wrapped in bandages?” My daughter had gone over to a neighbor’s house to play, when one of the children pushed my daughter. Houses in the countryside, a long time ago, had small doors that went from the room to the kitchen. My daughter fell through that door and landed on top of the charcoal furnace. Her hands and buttocks were burnt, and it broke my heart. I held my sleeping daughter and prayed to God. “God, allow Eun-sook not to be scarred and please heal her quickly.” During my prayer, I remembered my determination to rear my kids well. “You live in the same house as your loving daughter, but what did you do for her when she was falling on top of the charcoal furnace?” I was completely powerless although my daughter was hurt. To think that I could rear my daughter straight was nonsensical, and it was a tremendously arrogant heart. “God, I was so arrogant. God, with what power can I protect my daughter from danger, and how can I rear her well? I cannot do it. God, I am not confident in rearing my children so I leave them in your hands. You rear them.” I see many parents who are worried and tormented because of their problematic children. What parents would want to rear their children to be this way? They suffer, cry, and are saddened because it is not going according to their will. If it went according to their will, why would they cry? I so recklessly thought that I could rear my children properly only if I made up my mind to. I realized deeply in my heart how foolish that thought was the day my daughter was hurt. Thus, I turned my heart around before God. I thought that I can do anything in most instances and lived with a heart like that of Rachel. Because I thought of myself as smart and great, I had the heart, “These are things from man, so why couldn’t I do them?” But in reality, there was nothing I could do. God taught me in many aspects about this. “There is nothing I can do!” “I can do it. I only need to pray. I only need to not sin and live spiritual life. What is the problem?” I can easily have this heart when I have the heart to believe in myself. However, if God does not help me, it is such an ignorant and arrogant thought to think that I can live according to the Scriptures, do good things, and please God. Who skips a tithe because he wants to? Who sins because he wants to? Satan has deceived us to make us into Rachel.
Though It Seems Rachel Is Happy and Leah Is Miserable
There was a great commotion the morning after Leah entered Jacob’s bridal room and slept with him. “You! Why are you here?” Jacob almost fainted. “I slept with you last night? Oh, no! Get out!” Jacob was angry and went to Laban and yelled at him. “I served you seven years for your younger daughter, Rachel. Why did you give me Leah? How can you do this to me?” This must have torn Leah’s heart apart. Laban spoke. “It must not be done so in our country, to give the younger before the first-born. But serve seven more years. I will give you Rachel as well after seven years.” Jacob married Rachel because he wanted her, and Leah was given as an additive. Now it seemed that Rachel would be happy and Leah would be miserable. However, since Leah knew herself deeply, she sought God while Rachel lived without God because she was well in every aspect. Time passed and in the latter parts of Genesis chapter 29, it talks about Leah having sons. And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren. And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben . . . . (Genesis 29:31-32) Leah had a second son and called him, Simeon. She called her third son, Levi, and her fourth son, Judah. Reuben means, “Behold, a son!” How happy she must have been to have sons! Leah was tender-eyed and was a woman with nothing to exalt, but she gained hope from God. Simeon means, “God has heard.” Levi means, “unity,” signifying that her husband will now unite with her for she has bore three sons. Judah means, “praise,” which says she praises God who has given her sons. Since Leah had faith, she had hope and was able to have sons. But, Rachel became angry at Jacob because she was not being able to have children. “Give me children, or else I will die!” She is railing with her own methods because she is arrogant. When even this did not work, she said, “Then enter into my maid and have a son through her.” The name of the son who was born through this was Dan. Dan means, “a grudge is relieved.” Then she had a second son through the maid. This son was named, Naphtali, which means that she competed with her sister and won. Because she has no faith in her heart, these are the only kinds of names she can give to her sons.
God Who Leads Us to Be Like Leah
People of faith make the things they face, regardless of what they are, into opportunities to give thanks and praise and opportunities to unite with God and have hope. Since Leah has nothing to boast of, she cannot rely on herself, but on God. This caused faith to arise in her heart towards God. Therefore, regardless of what she faced, she accepted them as joy, thankfulness, and hope. Rachel was completely different. She had a grudge: “I won the competition,” and was rugged, and had evil things come from her heart. Rachel was loved by people because she had a pretty face. Because of this, she did not have any opportunity to break her heart or discover her true image. Therefore, she even made her children tools to fulfill her ambitions. Because Leah was an ugly and despised woman, she could deeply look upon herself and humble her heart. She looked to God and had children through the grace of God. When we see her sons’ names, we see that her heart was overflowing with hope and joy. God gives you pain, blemishes, and weaknesses to guide you to break and humble yourself like Leah. We need to have a heart like that of Leah, but Satan exalts our great aspects to make us arrogant and to make us into people who, by our ambitions, like Rachel, are unable to receive the grace of God. There may be great or smart people among you, but if you have the eyes to see yourself deeply, you can feel how lacking you are before God. If you could truly see how you are lacking and throw away your ambition and your thoughts, you, too, can have faith and become people who receive the grace of God.