“Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” Esau said, “I’m about to die. Of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
This is a pretty humbling picture, particularly when we think about how we are prone to act this way in our lives. Jacob is cooking stew here. Esau comes in from the field. He’s tired. Esau says, “Let me eat some of that stew. I’m so exhausted.” Jacob, as the deceiver that he is, looking to take advantage of the moment, says, “Sell me your birthright.” And Esau, in a moment, in an instant, exchanges his birthright and the blessings, the inheritance, that come with that, for a bowl of stew. He is so overwhelmed by his immediate need for gratification, his immediate need for food, that he loses total sight of what he’s letting go of, that lasts far beyond a meal. It lasts far beyond this moment. So we’re tempted to read these verses and think, “How could Esau do that? What a foolish decision.”
We are prone to exchange intimacy with God for immediate gratification. God, help us to value intimacy with You over the fleeting pleasure of this world.
But then we think about our own lives. How often do we find ourselves wanting immediate gratification, when something’s put before us, that we think, “Okay, I want that right now”? But in the process of getting that, we make a similarly foolish decision that forfeits so much. It forfeits a lot more than what we receive. You think about sin and temptation. Is this not a clear picture? When we are tempted to sin and we think, “Okay, if I do this, then I’ll be happy. If I do this, then I’ll be gratified. If I do this, this will be good for me.” In a moment, we make a decision. And in the process, we forfeit intimacy with God. We forfeit the blessing of God in obedience in our lives.
Oh, this passage is a mirror of our own hearts, of our own tendency to live for what we think we want in the moment instead of what we need most in eternity. We are so prone to run after, even to worship idols and gods that don’t satisfy. We are so prone to exchange eternal pleasure and promises for empty earthly pursuits. So God help us. God, help us to see this tendency in each of our own hearts and each of our own lives. Help us to see it today as we are lured by temptation in different ways. Help us to see sin for what it is. It’s not worth it. It’s not worth it. God, help us to see that it’s not worth it. Help us to run from it. Help us to run to you, to cling to you, to your promises, to the infinite treasure we have in you, to the far more satisfying pleasure we have in you that nothing in this world can compare with.
God, deliver us from empty pursuits, we pray. Help us to see rightly. Help us to think wisely. Help us to act obediently. Help us not to compromise, to let go of the great things you have offered to us, you have given to us, your promise to us in obedience to you. Help us not to relinquish those things in order to get that which may look good in the moment but will not satisfy and will not last in any way close to your promises, your blessing, your goodness toward us. Lord, help us to cling to you and your promises and your blessing in our lives as we obey you. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
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