Reuben, you are my firstborn,
my might, the first sign of my strength,
excelling in honour, excelling in power.
4 Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel,
for you went up onto your father’s bed,
onto my couch and defiled it.

Listening to some of the Olympic results today, I heard that Johnny Brownlee came in fifth in the triathlon, and so was not in the medals. It was another Brit, a suitably modest young chap, Alex Yee, who took silver, and won the glory, and the media’s attention. At least, for the time-being. Getting to the Olympics in the first place, let alone coming in fifth in your field, is quite an achievement. But I note that the one we were previously excited about is quietly replaced by the next ‘hero’ who is put in the spotlight (for five minutes!). This is how life works for the most part, and you need to get used to the idea that there will be someone coming up behind you who will eventually eclipse you. If you happen to be ‘flavour of the month’ there will be another ‘month’ and another ‘flavour’ coming along. Well this a rather long-winded way of saying that in many areas of life there comes a time when you can’t do what you once did, or you can’t do it as well. This especially applies to sport, but not exclusively so. It works out in other arenas too. The years take their toll. Today’s gold medalist will eventually be yesterday’s gold medalist (and possibly a pundit for BBC sport!! It’s not all bad!) There can be an inevitable loss of excellence, or less of ability to produce that level of excellence, which has nothing to do with moral failure. As one of my friends says, it’s just ‘anno domini’.

But how sad it is when the fall from excellence is moral; when, for example, a Christian leader who has served impeccably up to a particular point, then blows everything in a moment, or moments, of madness. They ship-wreck their ministries, and often, tragically, others go down with the ship.

Reuben’s fall was moral. In prophesying over his sons, Jacob begins with the sons of Leah (3-15). Reuben, Jacob’s eldest son, lost his status as firstborn because of his sin with Jacob’s concubine, by which he violated his father’s honour (Gen.35:22). Therefore he would “no longer excel” among his brothers. Rather Joseph would (26).

‘An old sin he’d committed finally caught up with Reuben (35:22; Num.32:23), and he lost his privileges as the firstborn son. Jacob gave that blessing to Joseph and his two sons (1 Chron.5:1-2)…It’s difficult to find in Scripture any member of the tribe of Reuben who distinguished himself as a leader. The tribe declined in numbers between the Exodus and the entrance into the Promised Land (Num.1:20-21; 2:11; 26:7)…’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘The Wiersbe Bible Commentary’, pp.136,137.

Sins may be forgiven if we are repentant, but, as we saw yesterday, actions have consequences. We reap what we sow

PRAYER: Lord, life is a minefield, and you know where all the hidden mines are. Please help me to walk carefully through this world, looking to you at all times to be my Shepherd-Guide.