Baby race in Amsterdam, courtesy Getty Images.

How destructive is the sin of envy!

Rachel says, “Give me children, or I shall die!”

Her husband Jacob answers, “Am I in the place of God?”

This indeed is the key question to ponder here.

We envy and then wrestle to prevail over others. (See James 4:1-3.)  We see it in families, even in the families who are in covenant with God. Abraham and Sarah contrived to help God fulfill his promise to them, and so involved Hagar, whose story ended sadly. Jacob and Esau wrestled for control of the family, also with much hurt and betrayal. Now Leah and Rachel each seek to prevail over the other.

God had promised the patriarchs that he would bless and multiply their descendants, but instead of praying and waiting upon the Lord, the two sisters engaged in a baby-making contest which involved the use (or rather, abuse) of other women as surrogate baby-makers.

So, why did God answer their prayers — and their methods — to give them more children? We must never assume that, in answering our prayers,  God must approve our methods and our means. He shows grace and mercy toward us, usually in spite of us. Sometimes even when we contrive to fulfill things our own way.

At the end the unanswered question is, “am I in the place of God?” Rachel put her end game — beating Leah in the baby race — in the place of God. Or she wanted Jacob to be like God and make things work. Either way, good goals become evil when they do not have the glory of God and the good of others as the intended result.

So, we need to ask ourselves…. what have I put in the place of God and his glory? Who am I feeling envious toward? Who am I wrestling with, rather than wrestling with God in prayer? What is it I think I must have or “I shall die”?  What shady methods am I stooping to in order to make things work the way I think they should work? Who am I trusting to bring about God’s promises?

Who — or what — have I put in the place of God?