24 And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb.
25 And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.
26 And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.
27 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.
28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.
When considering the story of Jacob and Esau, the sons of Isaac and Rebekah, we can clearly see the fruit of parenting gone wrong. A story of sibling rivalry beginning in the womb (verse 26) but instigated by parental favoritism.
All siblings, twins or not, are completely different from one another in temperament, habits, tendencies, likes, and dislikes to name a few. Its amazing to see how family members can be complete opposites, even though they are from the same parents and/or same family tree. Jacob and Esau, as twins, were no exception to this fact. (verse 27)
Observing such differences within our children may sometimes lead us as parents to seemingly grow strong affinity to one child over another, as did Rebekah and Isaac. (verse 28) Rebekah being more of a nurturer in her family favored Jacob, the son whom shared similar characteristics to her own. While Isaac, being the head of the household and possibly more of a rugged individual, enjoyed being in the presence and receiving the benefits of his favored son Esau, the hunter.
This story is evidence that playing favorites in a family can be a huge contributor to much heartache among its members. Ecclesiastes 1:9 states “there is no new thing under the sun.” Therefore the same will be true in our families as well if we allow for the spirit of favoritism to cause its ugly dissension. Rebekah’s playing favorites not only encouraged the dishonoring of a patriarch, but encouraged deceit among its members, cultivated animosity and hatred, and thereby resulting in a family member being exiled.
This idea of favoritism didn’t stop there, as it seemed engrained in Jacob to do the same among his own children in favoring Joseph above the rest (Genesis 37:3). The vicious cycle continued and the bearing of evil fruit was its result. So much so that Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and lied to their father that their brother was deceased…How sad! While God was able to turn what the devil meant for evil for everyone’s good, just imagine if none of these sinful practices were present in this family. Imagine the testimonies these families could have had, had they all lived lives completely surrendered to God and not played favorites.
The bible gives clear direction for parents in reference to favoritism. Colossians 3:25 is an important text to bring to light because we see in many stories of the families in the bible, that a “favored” child seemed to be exempt from parental punishment for wrong actions. James 2:9 admonishes people that “if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.” All this is imperative to put into practice, especially among our family members because Romans 2:11 states “For there is no respect of persons with God.” God does not play favorites among His children and neither should we. [see also: Proverbs 24:23; Proverbs 28:21a; 1 Peter 1:17].
As we prayerfully lead our children in the way of the Lord, let us be very mindful that we do not become a respecter of persons among them based on their temperaments and behaviors. While one child may seem more lovable and another may not exude that constitution, the one who lacks needs even more love so his/her character may become more amiable and receptive to the word and power of God. Let us as parents remember our home is our first mission field. Let us minister among our immediate family. Let us remember to lead everyone in the way of the Lord. Let us realize that no matter how we may personally perceive someone in our household, we are all level at the foot of the cross. We are all sinners in need of a loving Savior and no one should be a respecter of persons favoring one child over another.
See Note: PP 142.3 and 142.4