SOMETIMES good happens to us when we least expect it. Sometimes we receive far more good than we deserve.
When Jacob learned that Esau was approaching (Genesis 32:6), he was terrified. Here was his older twin brother—the brother that he and his mother had cheated out of his rightful portion of the family inheritance (27:1–29)—coming toward him with 400 men. Jacob assumed the worst. He cried out to God for mercy and deliverance (32:9–12) and sent his own extended family and his possessions to his brother’s “welcoming committee” (32:13–23).
Yet to Jacob’s surprise, Esau ran to him, embraced him, kissed him, and wept (33:4). This kind of grace was completely unexpected. It proved disarming to Jacob, and he could only respond by pressing his gifts on Esau, perhaps as a small remuneration for the lost inheritance (33:8–11).
Like Jacob, we, too, were extended grace and forgiveness when we least expected it, or deserved it. In providing salvation through Christ, God offers unmerited favor to people who actually deserve judgment (Romans 3:23–25; 5:15–17; James 4:1–6).
Jacob insisted on paying back his brother, and Esau finally accepted. But we can never pay back God for what He has done for us. However, we can respond to His gift of love by showing that same kind of love to others, especially as God teaches us how (1 John 3:11–17).