Thus I have been in your house twenty years; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. (Gen 31:41)
Back in the day it seems that time was...uh, women! Jacob served Laban for fourteen years and gained two wives, sisters at that. In place of an engagement ring of surpassing size and expense, Jacob could point to how long he worked. One year's wages, bah, I served seven years for each of my wives! The context of this verse today speaks of an aggrieved man. Jacob 'goes off' on Laban after his father-in-law could not find the household idols the man sought. He lists what he endured and how long in order to gain a life of his own with wives and sheep. Sheep?!
Jacob felt the call to return to Canaan; Laban didn't want change. Laban's flocks had grown much with the blessing of the Lord on Jacob. Family and fortune are powerful blessings. What's more, Jacob was taking off with his grandchildren, and the man left in the night without saying 'goodbye'!
We may find it easy to judge for one or the other. Rachel had in fact stolen the household gods, but managed to hide them from the search. Jacob was afraid Laban would hold the sisters by force; Laban, perhaps holding on too tightly, felt abused by the abrupt departure of what he saw as his own. It is interesting that God spoke to Laban and said, "Be careful that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad." That may well be a warning to us in this day to not judge for or against either side in the matter. God alone knows the heart of Jacob and Laban. So many times we run into conflicts that have good and bad, right and wrong on both sides. Holding back from judgment and turning to God for wisdom may be our best and loving response in these times.Have a peaceful day in Christ,