By the time Jacob up and left Laban’s compound, he had spent 20 years with that family. He ate with them daily, they shared stories and above all, they all had an opportunity to see Jacob’s character and faithfulness, which stemmed from the vow he had made with God at Bethel.
During that time, he got married and had children with his two wives; Leah, and the one he loved and to whom he was devoted, Rachel.
But having the character of God is not something which rubs off on you, once you spend enough time in the company of someone who has made a vow with Him. And Rachel is a perfect example of this: “Now Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel had stolen the household idols that were her father’s.” Genesis 31:19
Rachel had seen how her husband was faithful to his God, how the Lord had blessed him, had seen his character; but yet, deep inside she never truly let go of who she was, and the wrong roots she carried.
And so even today, history still repeats itself. We have people who come to church and certain habits they see in people around them end up rubbing off on them. And eventually they become counterfeit copies of what a person of God is like. They talk the same as a person of God, they take on their mannerisms, and unless you truly look deep enough, that person does indeed look like someone who has made their own vow with God, and seems to be born of Him. But in reality, they are just “riding the wave” of someone else’s vow and sooner or later, just like Rachel, they go back to their old habits.
We all need to remember that a vow with God is a very personal thing, that brings about a deep intimate transformation of who we are, our nature, thoughts and habits. No matter your title in the church, you need to ask yourself if one day, just like Jacob, you made your own vow of sacrifice to God. If you cannot remember the day you turned your back on your old life and decided to live a life of sacrifice for Him, chances are that this vow (and consequently the new birth) never happened. It may even be that your heart still craves the idols of the past.
Don’t let your title or responsibility in the church stop you from examining yourself and seeing your true nature. If Jacob, who lied and even used God’s name for his personal gain (Gen. 27:20) could be forgiven when he made his vow with God, so can you. But the first step is to recognise if this ever really happened in your life.
We may forget our vows, but God never does.