Lessons from Rebekah on Striking a Balance between Faith and Works

We are first introduced to Rebekah in Genesis 24. This chapter begins just after the death and burial of Sarah, Abraham's first wife. As such, Abraham became quite aware of his own mortality and, like any responsible father, was keen to put things in order before he died too. One of the things that he became concerned with was that his son, Isaac, find a wife- but not just any wife- "a wife from [his] country [and] family" rather than from Canaan (the land that he had settled in).

He was also adamant that Isaac not go back to Abraham's country to find a wife and settle there but that this woman do what he and Sarah did years ago- leave house and home for the establishment of the vision of God. He set all of this in motion by telling his chief servant of his wishes and making him swear that he would do everything to ensure this happened. Therefore, and thereafter, the servant set off on a journey back to Abraham's country to find Isaac a wife. A very long story short, this ended up being Rebekah. (Psssst! If you prefer, you can continue to listen to this devotional by pressing play on the audio below)

Fast forward many years later and (in Genesis 25:23) God revealed to Rebekah that, after years of barrenness, she was pregnant with twins. He also went on to tell her that the second born child would actually be greater than the first and that he (the first) would serve his younger sibling. Well, Rebekah clearly believed this. How do I know? In Genesis 27:6-30, Rebekah came up with a scheme to ensure that Jacob (the second born son) would receive the blessing of her first born son (Esau), which was Esau's birthright and should have been given to him by default of being the first born son.

Rebekah saw an opportunity to see her revelation come to pass and she acted on it by tricking her husband into believing that Jacob was Esau (which wasn't that hard given Isaac was basically blind and on his death bed by this point!). As harsh as this may seem. Rebekah understood that in order for the revelation that God had spoken to her to be fulfilled, it required that Jacob be given the blessing of the first born (as a father's blessing was prophetic- speaking forth God's purpose in the receiver's life).

Habakkuk 2:3 says that visions are for an "appointed time," meaning that God has a preferred time in mind for when a given revelation should be established. This is confirmed in Ecclesiastes 3:1 which says "to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven," which suggests that the attainment of our vision(s) rests on our ability to "discern [the] time" and move in it- even if it takes years like it did with Rebekah.

Robin Sharma once said:

"Our performance broadcasts our beliefs"

Which is basically another way of saying "faith without works is dead". This also goes for the way in which we approach life based on our belief system or "locus of control" (a concept developed by Julian B. Rotter in 1954).

"Locus" is a Latin word for location. Rotter, therefore, submitted that people have two loci of control or two areas in which they place the "blame" for the outcome/events of their lives. These are:

#1 The External Locus of Control

"The belief that events in one’s life, whether good or bad, are caused by uncontrollable factors such as the environment, other people, or a higher power [God]" (Renee Grinnell via psychcentral.com)


#2 The Internal Locus of Control

"The belief that events in one’s life, whether good or bad, are caused by controllable factors such as one’s attitude, preparation, and effort" (Renee Grinnell via psychcentral.com)


People with an external locus of control tend to be quite passive in their approach to life. Believing there is nothing that they can do to change anything, they deny their own significance and relinquish responsibility for their lives.

People with an internal locus of control tend to be too self-sufficient, believing they can effect change in their lives by themselves; in their own strength and without the help of God (think Sarah!).

But what about you, lovely? Which one would you say that you lean the most toward? A predisposition towards either extreme is too much. Rebekah's example shows us that there must be a balance. In as much as there is an interplay between the corporeal (natural) and incorporeal (spiritual) realm, there is an interplay between both internal and external factors on the outcome of our lives. This means that, like Rebekah, we must learn to take advantage of the opportunities that God brings our way and seem to come by chance (as she did when she bumped into Abraham's servant as he was looking for a wife for Isaac). But, we must also know when to create our opportunities- thereby putting action behind our faith in the word or revelation of God. In short, we must do what we can and let God do what we can't.

For more detailed advice on how to strike this balance between faith and works read my Lessons from Sarah on Patience and it's accompanying guidebook "6 Powerful Steps on How to Wait Patiently for God" (which can be accessed for free in the resource library. Simply click the button below)