As tempting as it is to study in depth the character and nature of Laban from Genesis 24 to Genesis 28-31, there are other characters in these scenes that have perhaps much more to tell us about who we are and how we are to live, not in relationship to one another, but in relationship to our God.
One of the fundamental differences between these two scenes is the man with whom Laban is dealing. No, we're not talking about the difference between Eliezer (most likely) and Jacob; we are talking about the difference between a servant and a master.
Jacob was a master. He came to Laban on his own behalf, in search of his own wife, and fell in love with the object of his own affection. It's far easier to keep this man right where you want him because he's acting on his own account. Jacob was content to stay seven years, seven more years, seven more years because his beloved was where he was. Rachel was there. It was easy for Jacob to make this place home because he had there everything that he wanted; he was content.
On the other hand, Eliezer was a servant. He came to Laban on behalf of his master, Abraham, and his future master, Isaac. He was on a mission, and there was nothing for him in the land of Laban. There was nothing that could convince him to stay, no matter how cunning Laban might have been, because his loyalty and his life were elsewhere. He was operating on behalf of someone else, someone not present, and so he already had his marching orders. He could not be contented in a land far away because his life was elsewhere and already firmly established.
The importance of this cannot be overstated, particularly for those of us who are attempting to live a faithful life for the Lord. This world sometimes does a pretty good job of tempting us to stay, of drawing us into a certain place and telling us it's just fine there, of pulling us off-mission for its own sake (or simply for the sake of stopping us).
We have to remember that we are servants, not masters, to avoid this trap.
If we are masters, we're content just about anywhere. We take our lives with us, and they can be contented and fulfilled just about anywhere. It doesn't occur to us that this might not be our place because we have everything we want here. We set things up around us so that we're happy here. We travel with our households and everything in them, and there's nothing anywhere else that can call us away, call us back. At least, not right away. Not pressingly. It's easy to convince us to stay seven years, seven years, another seven years because we act on our own behalf; we're content wherever we are.
But if we are servants, then we'll always be restless for home. Our lives? They're somewhere else, and they're already firmly established. We're on mission, and it's difficult to distract us from that because there's nothing here that can satisfy us. We already have our marching orders, and all the wonders and glories of this world can't change them. We're living and acting on behalf of someone else, and it is His purpose that is our purpose. It is His glory that is our glory. It is His story that is our story. So no matter what, you cannot convince us to stay, for we are a people on the move by our very nature, servants of the One who sent us in the first place.
This is not the place to which we have come; it is the place to which we go. And we will always be working toward coming home.
If you want to defend yourself against the wiles of this world, if you want to make sure that you don't fall into any traps, if you want to be impervious to the snake, it's really quite as simple as this: remember that you are a servant, not a master.
You work for Him.
And you've got places to go, things to do, people to see, so there's no reason at all for you to get stuck here. No matter what Laban says.