And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. (Genesis 29:10)
According to the Bible, it was customary among the people who lived in that area to wait until everyone had shown up with their flocks before the stone was removed from the well’s mouth. But when Jacob saw his cousin, Rachel, he ignored the local custom and removed the stone himself. We don’t know just how large a stone this was but it must have been of significant size if it was only removed after everyone’s flock was present. Even after a long journey, Jacob was obviously inspired to action by seeing Rachel — the woman he would fall in love with.
By watering the flock of his uncle, Jacob initiated a season of service to his uncle — he would serve him for the next twenty years, in fact. His tenure in the house of Laban brought great prosperity to his uncle and his family, thus hinting at the fact that the seed of Abraham was to be a source of blessing to others. This is, in fact, what God had told Abraham when he departed from Haran saying, “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).
As the story unfolds, we see that Laban, a self-serving man, really didn’t appreciate Jacob’s contribution to his welfare but instead regarded his nephew as someone he could use for his own benefit. Jacob would serve faithfully under these uncomfortable conditions for many years, demonstrating that whether people respond favorably or not to our good works isn’t the issue — we are to do what is right regardless of what everyone else does. Our Father in Heaven is the one we are to serve in humility and faithfulness.
Messiah set the standard for service by humbling Himself to the point of death because, as He said, He did not come to be served, but to serve, “and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). By giving us an example of what is pleasing to the Father, He instructed us to live our lives in deference to others rather than focusing on ourselves. Perhaps this is the meaning behind, “And you shall love your neighbor as yourselves.” If we are to be His people, then we are to serve Him by serving others.
Blessings and Shalom,