I’ll do whatever it takes to achieve my goal. While there’s no doubt that the self-sacrifice, determination, and hard work implied by such a statement are all commendable attributes, doing “whatever it takes” isn’t always a recipe for success. It just might be a recipe for disaster.
Take for example Rebekah and Jacob’s crafty plot to deceive an old man and defraud a young man of his rightful blessing (Genesis 27:1-40). In those days, it was customary for the father to bestow a blessing on his oldest son before his departure from this earth. Sensing that his time was near, Isaac called for his oldest son, Esau, and asked him to go hunting and prepare a meal for him so that he could impart the blessing.
Overhearing this conversation, Rebekah sprang into action. She pulled aside her son, Jacob, and offered the details of her plan. It involved killing a couple of goats, preparing a meal to Isaac’s liking, and Jacob disguising himself as his brother. Jacob was worried that the plan might blow up and that his father would curse him, not bless him. Still, his mother urged him to move forward with the plan: ‘“My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say…”’ (Genesis 27:13, NIV).
Rebekah and Jacob didn’t just come up with a plot. It was a calculated and carefully contrived conspiracy. They were willing to do whatever it took to get the blessing, and they succeeded in achieving their goal. While their misguided ambition and manipulative actions may have brought them short-term success, they also set themselves up for long-term disaster.
There will always be those who are motivated to get what they want, and will do almost anything to achieve it – even if it means compromising their values or mistreating others. While these tactics may move a person closer to an immediate goal, many times it results in lasting detrimental consequences for the relationship.
There may be some of us who have created heartache for others by doing whatever it took to achieve our objectives, and some of us have been hurt by the manipulative or deceptive actions of others. Even though the wounds are deep and the healing process is hard, peace is possible. If those who are hurt will go to the Savior, they can surrender their pain and brokenness. Those who have caused the offense can examine their own hearts and make peace with God before doing the same with a brother or sister. If our hearts are willing, our Father can help us move forward on the difficult – but rewarding – path to forgiveness. Take one step at a time. Walk the path.
Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries
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