Think About The Consequences

The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (he was the firstborn, but when he defiled his father's marriage bed, his rights as firstborn were given to the sons of Joseph . . . so he could not be listed in the genealogical record in accordance with his birthright, and though Judah was the strongest of his brothers and a ruler came from him, the rights of the firstborn belonged to Joseph) . . .   I Chronicles 5:1-3
Genesis 35:22 records these words: "While he was living there, Reuben had intercourse with Bilhah, his father's concubine, and Jacob soon heard about it…"  "Jacob soon heard about it" could be an indication that the rumors must have been circulating around before Jacob finally heard about it. It is interesting that there was is no indication that Jacob dealt with this unacceptable behavior until he was about to take his last breath. There are many things that we could conjecture: Did Jacob ever forgive Reuben or was he bitter against Reuben all the rest of his life culminating in the curse he released upon him before he died? Was Reuben ever repentant? There is no record of him asking his father for forgiveness.

Jacob cursed Reuben on his deathbed in Gen 49: "Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honor, excelling in power. Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father's bed, onto my couch and defiled it." Jacob placed a spiritual halt on the earthly progress of his son. Reuben would no longer excel in honor and power. He lost his right and blessings as the firstborn son.

There are many lessons from the passage: First: Our actions have consequences. God will certainly forgive us when we repent but the consequences might not necessarily be eradicated. We must deal with sin in a very radical way; put aside our pride and ask for forgiveness from those we offend no matter how humiliating that might be. Not dealing with our sins can result in unpleasant outcomes, sometimes years later. That was the case with Reuben. There is no record in the Bible that he dealt with his sinful conduct against his father.

Second: When people offend us, we must reach out and  "confront" them appropriately. We should not harbor it and act as if all is well only to "blow up" later. That is what Jacob did. He did not show his anger or bitterness against Reuben until he was about to die. Life and death is in the power of the tongue. Jacob spoke death to Reuben's future from his deathbed.

Third: We must always be respectful of authority as the Bible teaches. It is God who sets people in authority; whether spiritual, family, civil or political. Even when we disagree with them, we are to honor and not disrespect them. We can still point out our disagreement in a respectful and honorable manner. It never pays to disrespect authority because it is tantamount to disrespecting the God who appointed that authority. The Bible says: "Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be to your benefit" (Hebrews 13:17). May God help us to be mindful of our words and actions because they have consequences.

Prayer: Father, please help me to be righteous in what I do and say because they have positive and negative consequences. May the words of my mouth, the meditation of my heart and the actions of my life, bring honor and not pain to your heart and destruction to my life. Amen.